Belfast Telegraph

Vice madam Rong Chen who bullied women into prostitution bids to avoid deportation to China

BY Alan Erwin

A woman convicted of controlling and trafficking prostitutes in Northern Ireland by threatening violence has launched a legal bid to halt her deportation to China.

Rong Chen received a seven-year jail sentence for running a vice ring which involved conning women into thinking they were coming to work as child minders.

Since completing her prison term she has been moved to a detention centre in England pending her planned deportation.

But the 37-year-old has now initiated multiple proceedings aimed to stopping her removal. They include a rarely-sought application for a writ of habeas corpus to secure her immediate release.

Lawyers for Chen are set to argue that the deportation order, made by the Home Office, was unlawful because her appeal process has not been exhausted.

Should a writ be granted she would be released from the detention centre until separate legal challenges are completed.

Chen, originally from China but with a former address at Crestwood Avenue, Kidderminister, Worcestershire, was found guilty of trafficking and controlling prostitution in 2012.

The judge who jailed her described her as egocentric and money-driven, and said she had sexually exploited four women regardless of the impact on their lives.

Her husband, Jason Hinton, and former policeman Simon Dempsey (44) of Ringbuoy Cove in Cloughey, Co Down, were also convicted of related offences.

The trio were brought to court following a six-month police operation into an organised crime gang controlling prostitution in Northern Ireland and trafficking women for exploitation.

They had admitted charges which included controlling prostitution for gain, trafficking women within the UK and handling money linked to the vice ring in 2008 and 2009.

It is believed the operation was worth more than £280,000 over an 18-month period. Chen ran five brothels in Belfast, Newry and Londonderry, and duped Chinese women into travelling over to Northern Ireland.

She placed advertisements in English newspapers offering work as nannies and cleaners, only to force the women to work as prostitutes. Once they arrived in Northern Ireland the women were threatened with violence and with their illegal status.

In the High Court yesterday counsel for the Home Office claimed Chen's appeal against deportation had already been refused. But the habeas corpus application was adjourned until later this month.

Mr Justice Treacy said: "I don't see how the applicant is prejudiced by the case being put back to March 25."

Outside the court Chen's solicitor insisted that important issues raised by the case needed to be resolved as soon as possible.

Paul Pierce of KRW Law said: "The legality of our client's detention still remains to be determined by the courts in this jurisdiction."

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