A MARRIED couple who were operating a brothel out of an Ennis property, were making €1,200 per week for offering prostituion services, Ennis District Court has heard.
David Navvaro (20) and Celia Gallan (42) with an address at Drumroe, Rhebogue, County Limerick were collectively fined what would be a week’s earnings in the brothel. The couple, who have since moved to the east of the country, pleaded guilty to living on the earnings of prostitution, contrary to the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Act 1993.
The charge states the defendants did knowingly live in whole or in part on the earnings of the prostitution of another person and aided and abetted that prostitution at a house at Station View on July 23, 2016.
At Wednesday’s sitting of the district court Navvaro, who is Spanish, and his Brazlian wife, Gallan pleaded guilty to the charge and claimed they did not know it was illegal to operate a brothel as it is “a cottage industry” in Spain.
Inspector Tom Kennedy, prosecuting, said gardaí developed suspicions in May 2016 that there might be a brothel operating at Station View and a warrant was issued for a property then occupied by Navvaro and Gallan. On June 23, 2016 Garda Damien Quaid, lead investigator, executed the warrant.
Inspector Kennedy said gardaí discovered a laptop computer that had an advert placed on Escort Ireland, advertising prostitution services with the defendants. The court heard the defendants had called themselves “Anne and Peter” on the advert and they were offering various services.
A phone was recovered, which was the number clients would ring if they wanted to make an appointment.
a notebook recovered where there were details of payments of clients coming to the house. To put a context on it, it cost €130 for half an hour; 45 minutes was €170 and an hour was €200. Massages and physiotherapy were also offered and ranged from €50 to €100. It amounted to effectively about €1,200 a week being earned as part of the activity in the house, which was in the form of sexual activity and prostitution,” Inspector Kennedy outlined.
He said the couple were co-operative with gardaí. “They were questioned about the notebook, phone and site, readily forthcoming about what the gardaí suspected and all that stacked up. Their response was they didn’t think they were doing anything wrong.”
The court heard the couple came here from Barcelona and have no previous convictions.
Judge Patrick Durcan, presiding, asked if there were any third parties involved in this enterprise.
Inspector Kennedy said, “They were managers and providers. This was a joint enterprise and it was advertised in that format and that a couple situation would apply. There were no third parties and no one was working for them”.
The maximum fine for this charge is €1,000 and/or a prison term not more than six months.
Solicitor for the couple, Daragh Hassett, said his clients came to Ireland to work.
“They weren’t aware that what they were doing in Ireland was illegal. They lived in Spain and this is a cottage industry there and is rampant in Spain. When gardaí came to the door and entered their home, it became clear to them that it was not legal,” he said.
He outlined that they offered great assistance to gardaí on how their business operated. He said the two married in October 2016 and when news of this activity broke, they were “ran out of the property and had to leave Clare”.
He said both are now living in the east of the country and are working in a company where they earn a gross weekly sum of €400.
Judge Patrick Durcan said it stands to the defendants’ benefit that they had “no employees”.
He imposed a fine of €600 on each defendant and gave them three months to pay. When asked to consider a payment to the court discretionary fund, Judge Durcan said it was not an appropriate case. Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.
By Carol Byrne