Belfast Telegraph

Derry man pleads guilty to running brothel

By George Jackson

A businessman declared bankrupt sub-let a house to Hungarian prostitutes for financial gain, a court has heard.

Paul McGrory (54), from Ard Fada in the Waterside area of Londonderry pleaded guilty to running a brothel.

He also admitted to acquiring criminal property with £17,375 and converting criminal property worth £7,668 to credit card accounts between February and November 2016.

At a plea hearing in Derry Crown Court yesterday, a barrister for the Public Prosecution Service explained the charges came to light during what was initially a police investigation into possible human trafficking.

A number of women had been sent text messages by the defendant offering them premises at Argyle Street, the court was told.

The women had advertised their services on the adult website Escort Ireland. The text messages on their mobile phones "were linked to the defendant's mobile phone", the court heard.

During the investigation, police received several complaints from residents in Argyle Street who told them they had seen men regularly going into the brothel. The men would walk up and down the street before receiving a phone call and going into the house.

The residents told the police they had often seen scantily clad young women at the front door and at the front window of the house.

The prosecutor said McGrory started renting the house in February 2016 and paid weekly rent of £115. He then sub-let the three bedrooms to the Hungarian women for £350 per week, per room. The police searched the house and during one of the searches they discovered bedside cabinets, each stuffed with sexual paraphernalia.

In June 2016 the officers spoke to two women in the house.

"One of the women told the police they provided sexual services for money. She, along with the other women, arrived together, met the defendant and paid him £700 for one week's rent," the prosecutor said.

A police examination of McGrory's bank account showed lodgements of £17,350 between February and November 2016 at a time when he was unemployed. The officers also found credit card transactions of £7,668.65.

"On November 16, 2016, the police went to the defendant's then home in Ardmore. He was cautioned and arrested. His wife said: 'What is this about?' And he replied: 'It's about the house I rent in Derry'," the prosecutor said. The prosecutor added there was no evidence of human trafficking.

He said the defendant used the money to pay for normal household expenses and not to fund an extravagant lifestyle.

Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said the offences did not involve coercion, recruitment, control or threats.

"It appeared to have been a convenient arrangement for both parties," he said.

He said the first McGrory's wife knew about her husband's activities was when the police called at her home.

McGrory was released until his sentencing on Friday.

Belfast Telegraph

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