Hanying Mao leaves court after admitting to prostitution offences.
Hanying Mao leaves court after admitting to prostitution offences.

Sex worker busted twice in undercover COVID checks

A coronavirus crackdown to ensure prostitution workers were complying with new health regulations resulted in a Chinese national facing court this week.

Undercover police targeted massage providers in a series of stings, with the resulting charges going before Ipswich Magistrates Court.

One woman was busted by police in both Ipswich and the Brisbane suburb of Belmont and fined $2664 for COVID breaches.

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Hanying Mao, 53, pleaded guilty to knowingly participating in the provision of prostitution services at Ipswich on July 28 and in Belmont on May 29; and to two separate charges of being in possession of tainted property.

Prosecutor Sergeant Paul Caldwell said police were checking compliance among providers of sexual services.


Hanying Mao leaves court after admitting to prostitution offences.
Hanying Mao leaves court after admitting to prostitution offences.


On May 29 undercover police made a call to book a legitimate massage.

They were called back later on another number and given a time and the address of a Belmont house.

Police who were "by chance" already in the street had been observing men coming and going from the house.

Sgt Caldwell said the officer saw an old silver ute drive out and then a male in another ute immediately park outside the same house.

The court heard that when that man came left the house, an officer stopped him and the tradie confirmed he had visited a sex worker inside.

A few minutes later, the officer received a text saying "I'm ready for you".

"She had three clients one after the other. Barely minutes in between," Sgt Caldwell said.

When the undercover police officer was greeted by Mao she offered a 45-minute full sexual service for $170.

For a further $50 she made the offer of unprotected oral sex.

Sgt Caldwell said the officer saw a male standing inside an adjoining bedroom who could provide no valid reason for being there.

Mao told police via an interpreter that she operates with two receptionists, and agents who place the advertisements, do negotiations and direct clients to her.

The tainted property offences relates to cash and mobile phones she used that were seized by the detectives doing the compliance checks on massage advertisers.

Sgt Caldwell said Mao was found with $2220 cash, and revealed she would pay $15 to the receptionists for each client.

She said the money was received from clients that had been sent to her. A note pad held client details.

Mao was issued two fines for breaching COVID regulations.

Magistrate Dennis Kinsella said the breach involved her engaging a third party for bookings and advertising, noting that if she had conducted those activities herself she would not have been charged.

Her Ipswich offending was discovered when the police prostitution task force went to the online site Escorts and Babes as part of an investigation into compliance.

Sgt Caldwell said an undercover detective went to a room at Ipswich City Motel just before 2pm and met Mao.

Mao quoted a full price list but the officer commented that she was different to the woman depicted in the advertising photo.

"She admits providing adult sex services arranged by a friend, who messaged her the client details, and to expect the client at a certain time," Sgt Caldwell said.

"Two mobile phones were in the room. And $330 in Australian currency was found hidden between the pages of a Bible."

Mr Kinsella said this was the fourth time Mao had been before a Queensland court in the past two years.

Defence lawyer Jiabei Qi said Mao instructed that she takes full responsibility for her actions.

Ms Qi said the offences were a consequence of her inability, lack of capacity in speaking English and that she did not fully understand the law.

"She has now engaged our law firm (Russo) and we have provided her with information," Ms Qi said.

"She was fined $2664 and it has already been paid.

"She is on a bridging visa now so any conviction may have a negative impact.

"Because of COVID if the visa is rejected she is obliged to leave Australia."

Mr Kinsella said prostitution laws were designed to protect workers from exploitation.

Mao was fined $1200.

He noted the COVID issue and the costs if she was required to leave Australia within 28 days and did not record a conviction, telling Mao she was very lucky.

The $2220 cash and mobile phones were forfeited.