Woman who played host at brothel is found guilty
Published 12/11/2009 | 00:44
A Malaysian woman has been found guilty of controlling prostitutes at a brothel in south Belfast.
Despite being sentenced to three months imprisonment, Cheng Sook Wong (58) walked free from court due to the length of time already spent in custody.
She had answered phone calls and directed punters to the house on Tates Avenue where Asian women were said to ply their trade from eight in the morning.
Wong also admitted carrying out all cooking, washing and cleaning duties at the three-storey property.
She said she realised it was a brothel as soon as she arrived from London in October 2008, but she denied having anything to do with its running or control, claiming instead to have been employed as a cleaner by a woman identified only as ‘Monica’.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard she was paid £210 a week, and lived there rent-free.
Prostitutes from Thailand, Hong Kong and China, who were rotated weekly, would give her tips of up to £100 before they left, with cash gifts also received from customers, it was claimed.
Wong, whose address was given as Tates Avenue, Belfast, was arrested in November during a police raid where notebooks listing clients details were also seized.
Giving evidence, she told the court how she worked there to pay off debts but had no control over who the women slept with.
“On the same day I arrived a Chinese girl talked to me and explained to me what they were doing in the house. I came to understand,” she said.
“Every week they changed girls, so every Sunday the girls would give you either £30, £50 or sometimes £100 (in tips), it depends on the girls.
“I just opened the door. Monica would tell me: ‘You ask him to turn to the right when he is at the staircase'.”
But prosecuting lawyer Philip Henry contended that Wong's activities were enough to convict her of controlling prostitution for gain.
He said: “It could be described as fulfilling the host role downstairs in the premises.”
Wong, who has already spent six months in custody, was given a three-month jail sentence. She plans to appeal the outcome.