Belfast Telegraph

Brothers admit they operated Northern Ireland prostitution ring

By John Cassidy

Two brothers have pleaded guilty to controlling women for prostitution in Northern Ireland.

Spartacus Ilie Mihai (20), of Henley Road in Ilford, Essex, and Decebal Mihai (28), of Kenlis Street, Banbridge, Co Down, appeared at Belfast Crown Court to be formally arraigned on a total of 27 charges between them.

The Romanian nationals both pleaded guilty to controlling prostitution of a number of women called 'J'Adore' and 'Elsie' on dates between December 2013 and May 2017.

The brothers also jointly admitted a charge of conspiracy to traffick women for sexual exploitation.

Spartacus Mihai pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property of £12,015 in cash on dates between December 2014 and January 2017.

He further admitted converting criminal property, namely cash to the value of £14,451, between April 2016 and May 2017.

Decebal Mihai pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property, namely cash to the value of £92,529, between December 2013 and May 2017.

He further admitted a separate charge of converting criminal property totalling £53,473 on dates between January 2014 and May 2017.

Prosecution lawyer Rosemary Walsh asked Belfast Recorder David McFarland for nine charges to be "left on the books in the usual terms". These related to human trafficking and Proceeds of Crime offences.

Spartacus Mihai's defence barrister, Joel Lindsay, said the defendants wanted to proceed to sentencing without reports from the Probation Service. However, Judge McFarland said that in the circumstances he would have to order pre-sentence reports.

The judge told the defendants: "The reason why I am going to order the reports is that because of these matters I have to consider whether you are dangerous.

"In other words, I have to consider whether you pose a risk of serious harm to members of the public and the legislation requires me to make that decision."

Judge McFarland remanded the brothers back into custody to await sentencing next month.

No details were given in court about the nature of the charges, but at an earlier hearing prosecutors claimed four women who earned in excess of £125,000 from the sex trade were sexually exploited.

The brothers were arrested in May last year following searches of properties in Banbridge and the Newtownards Road in east Belfast.

During a High Court bail application last June, a senior judge was told the pair were allegedly observed driving women to clients for sex, including trips to hotels.

Further research was said to have uncovered bank accounts and moneygram transfers of cash to Romania.

A Crown lawyer claimed £100,000 earned from the prostitutes over a three-year period was deposited in Northern Ireland. A further £26,000 was said to have been wired to Romania.

One alleged victim transferred more than £12,000 to Decebal Mihai, while a second sent him over £10,000, the court heard.

Belfast Telegraph

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