‘Manipulated, preyed upon’: Escort agency accused face court
TWENTY five people appeared in a Brisbane court today, charged with prostitution-related offences, after the closure on an alleged illegal Gold Coast escort agency.
Shawn Moy, 47, the alleged owner of the Coomera business, was charged with knowingly carrying on a business of providing illegal prostitution at Coomera and elsewhere, from October, 2016, to July this year.
Moy also was charged with knowingly participating in the provision of prostitution at Capalaba and elsewhere in 2015 and possession of tainted property.
The arrests were the result of an investigation by the State Crime Command's Prostitution Enforcement Taskforce.
After Operation Romeo Manoeuvre, targeting unlawful prostitution, began in March, police executed a search warrant on Moy's Coomera residence.
It will be alleged police found several mobile phones with contact numbers used in advertising for prostitution services.
They also allegedly found vehicles used for transportation, a computer with software for booking appointments and a range of business documents.
Police will allege the business was operating under the facade of a legitimate business, with documentation uncovered including employment contracts and worksheets.
A woman, 19, was placed on a $600 six-month good behaviour bond, after pleading guilty to engaging in prostitution.
The woman had worked as a night driver for escorts from June last year and then worked as a prostitute for four months last year, the prosecutor told Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Her lawyer told the court the young woman had been 18 and had just left school when she became involved with the escort business.
He said she had answered an ad on Gumtree for a job as a driver for the personal security industry.
When she arrived at work she was told to drive women to particular locations and after doing 200 shifts she came to understand the nature of the business.
The court was told the young woman became involved in prostitution after she was "manipulated and preyed upon" by an older person in the business.
She had been convinced that there was great potential to earn money and pay off her significant debts, the lawyer said.
The lawyer said the young woman, who was now working in a Gold Coast shop and living with her supportive parents, felt remorseful, highly embarrassed and petrified at finding herself in court on such a charge.
References and a psychological report were tendered. The magistrate did not record a conviction.
Two other men were charged with knowingly carrying on the business of providing illegal prostitution.
Most of those charged, including some alleged customers, had their cases adjourned.
Senior Sergeant Kevin Groenhuijzen said the investigation outcome was significant as senior figures in the business model had been apprehended.
"This result highlights how we are continuing to target and apprehend those who allegedly operate outside of the law in Queensland.
"Dismantling this operation was significant and sends a clear message of our commitment to targeting these alleged offenders," he said.