Bail for graduate charged over vice raids on brothels
A Scottish university graduate-turned prostitute viewed potential brothels in Belfast for the alleged head of a human trafficking gang.
The claim was made in the High Court during a bail application by Yvonne Dawson, 22, who was arrested last Friday following police raids in Belfast.
She faces a charge of controlling prostitution following the raids in Belfast.
Bail was granted.
Ms Dawson of Tambowie Cottages, Milngavie, Glasgow, was among four people arrested during a police operation against a gang alleged to have operated brothels in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Cardiff and Belfast.
Lawyers for the 22-year-old, who was arrested as part of a UK-wide offensive against sexual exploitation, claimed that she acted in fear of the suspected gang boss.
Prosecutors said Yvonne Dawson also admitted controlling some of the banking and finances from the vice racket.
One of the alleged victims, a Bolivian woman, had been sold into prostitution, the court was told.
Up to £54,000 was spent on advertising three brothels operated in Belfast in a national newspaper and on the internet, according to the prosecution.
And it was claimed 35 flights were made in the last four months to bring prostitutes into the city to work.
Crown counsel Derval McGuigan said Ms Dawson was arrested at a brothel and later admitted her involvement as an independent escort before going to work for a co-accused charged with trafficking.
She was alleged to have paid money from her earnings to him and viewed properties for potential use as brothels.
The court heard she also accompanied one of the women into Belfast in April and arranged hotel accommodation for her.
Opposing bail, Ms McGuigan said police feared should would fail to reappear.
"The gang have the ability to transport victims into and out of Northern Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom using false identities and credit cards," she said.
Charles McCreanor, defending, argued that Ms Dawson had, on occasions, been used and at other times been afraid.
He set out how his client came from a farming family and had completed tourism and equine studies with a view to setting up an equestrian centre.
But after obtaining her degree she found herself without any money, the court heard.
"She voluntarily became engaged and acted as a prostitute," Mr McCreanor said.
It was claimed that after becoming involved with the suspected gang leader she was asked to view the apartments because others working with her at the time were transsexuals and would appear too suspicious.
Granting bail, Mr Justice Hart said: "This degrading, repulsive trade is notorious for, amongst other things, the way in which those who ultimately organise and control prostitutes bend people to their will and intimidate and frighten."
The judge said that with "very considerable hesitation" he was prepared to release Dawson.
But he ordered £20,000 sureties to be supplied and ordered that she report to police daily.
She was also told to surrender her passport and any mobile phones, and banned from contacting her co-accused or witnesses.