The defence counsel for a "seemingly well-travelled' 35-year-old Chinese national who "should have known better" told a court their client was occupied with "only a handjob, not sex" when an undercover officer busted her in the act.

The court heard the woman, in Australia since early last year, had "fallen into a prostitution ring" that involved five venues where illegal prostitution was uncovered by police.

Appearing at Cleveland Magistrates Court today Minglei Guan pleaded guilty to knowingly participating in the provision of prostitution and engaging in prostitution through an unlawful prostitution business.

The court heard an undercover police officer at 9.30am on December 8 was informed "hand relief" services would be an extra $50 on top of the rate for a massage at Bayside Lotus Healing Massage & Beauty in Capalaba.

Minglei Guan leaves Cleveland Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to prostitution charges. Picture: Marcel Baum
Minglei Guan leaves Cleveland Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to prostitution charges. Picture: Marcel Baum

A police prosecutor said when the officer announced himself and investigated a closed room, a naked female employee was observed "conducting hand relief, stroking his penis".

The venue was one among five where, the court was told, similar offending was discovered.

The defence said Guan had lived in Ireland since 2014 before moving to Australia for a working holiday.

Having first worked on a farm in Caboolture an injury led the Chinese national to work at a sushi store in Victoria Point before her employment was lost when COVID struck.

With dwindling savings and "no other options or support", the defence said their client resorted to prostitution and now faced deportation.

The defence clarified that Guan was engaged in "only a handjob, not sex" when police struck.

Magistrate Deborah Vasta acknowledged the woman had only been involved in the underground sex services for two months, was "obviously new to the scene", "not a ringleader" and "down the food chain".


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Described by the magistrate as "seemingly well-travelled", the 35-year-old was warned she "should have known better".

Guan, who had no criminal history, was fined $500 with no conviction recorded.

Originally published as Undercover cop busts Capalaba prostitution ring