Kent

Trio jailed over brothels in Kent, London and Essex

Dongning Zhang, Shuangyan Hu and Kai Shao Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption Zhang, his partner Hu and Shao had a "sophisticated" sex network, the judge said

Three members of a gang who ran a network of brothels in south-east England that netted hundreds of thousands of pounds have been jailed.

Ringleader Zhang Dongning, his partner Hu Shuangyan and Shao Kai committed a "sophisticated crime", a judge said.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the gang rented flats in London, Kent and Essex, telling estate agents they worked for Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei.

Judge Charles Macdonald QC told them it was a significant commercial operation.

The court heard that in one raid on a flat in Lime Hill Road, Tunbridge Wells, police found £1,000 cash and a woman "scantily dressed in a cheerleading outfit".

Image caption Hu Shuangyan was convicted of conspiring to run brothels, while her co-accused pleaded guilty

Records uncovered by police established that their business made more than £500,000 over three years. Sex workers were advertised online.

Hu, 37, of St Kildas Road, Harrow, north-west London, was found guilty on 18 June of keeping a brothel and money-laundering.

The Chinese national, who said she became involved only because Zhang "put her up to it", was given a 42-month sentence.

'Meticulous' record keeping

Zhang, whom the prosecution said was at the centre of the conspiracy, and Shao admitted the same charges at a hearing in April.

Zhang, who lived with Hu, said the brothel workers had approached him.

He said the women were well treated and he had been the last to be paid.

He was jailed for four years and three months.

Shao, of Millwall, south-east London, said he earned only £300 a week as cook and cleaner at the brothels.

He was jailed for 20 months.

Judge Macdonald told them: "This was a sophisticated crime with meticulous record keeping... a significant commercial operation which netted, at times, up to £9,000 a month."

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