A woman has pleaded guilty to keeping a brothel in Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town after a police raid found sex toys and pornographic material in the property.
The sordid business was discovered after a tanning salon receptionist was asked, “Is this the naughty shop?” by a man seeking a prostitute in the High Street.
The punter left after being told he was in the wrong place and walked up an alleyway to the flat above the salon, where Thai woman Renoo Changniam was running the operation.
St Albans Crown Court today heard Old Town businesses and residents had complained about activities at the two-bedroom flat, where men were seen to be visiting provocatively-dressed, heavily-made up women operating from there over a seven-month period.
Prosecutor Catherine Rabaiotti said the police raided Flat 4 at number 31 in the High Street on 29 January last year.
Among the explicit material condoms, a massage booth, £200 cash and mobile phones were also discovered. Two diaries containing a log of takings from the brothel and prices for the services offered were also found.
Ms Changniam, 35, a Thai national with leave to stay in the UK, was arrested following the search.
Text message recovered from her phone included: ‘Hello what ladies are on tonight?’ and ‘How much for two girls?’
The court heard men were requesting the services of ‘Hot Thai Nadia’ and ‘Naughty Vicky.’
Ms Changniam admitted working as a prostitute in interview, but said she did so independently and earned £300 a day.
Around £27,000 in cash had gone through her bank account in the seven months from June 2012.
Andrew Kerry, defending, said: “She accepts she managed the brothel, she was the tenant. She has never denied she is a working girl and other girls were working there.”
He said she had lived in the UK for 12 years and had no convictions or cautions, but had been a ‘working girl’ for six or seven years.
The lawyer added Changniam had a serious gambling habit, which involved her losing hundreds and hundreds of pounds every day on the internet.
He said she had not made £27,000 and that the cash going through her account was as a result of her transferring money from other banks.
Mr Kerry asked that the judge pass a term which would prevent her returning to prison, as she had spent the equivalent of a 10-month sentence while on remand.
Recorder Patrick Fields agreed and passed a nine-month sentence, meaning she will spend no more time in jail.
The judge told her: “Flat 4 was operating as a brothel under your management and directions. The evidence from the local residents is that these premises were a nuisance to the neighbourhood.”
A confiscation hearing will be at a later date.