herald

Friday 24 October 2014

Brothel couple must pay out €4k to charity

A FORMER husband and wife who ran brothels across Dublin will avoid jail if they donate to a prostitution charity.

The pair flew women over from eastern Europe and advertised their services on the Escort Ireland website.

Bernadette Kiss (29) ran the enterprise while her ex-husband Istvan Zeffer (29) acted a "gopher".

Kiss's prostitutes charged €250 for sex or €1,200 for the night. They each paid weekly "rent" of €450 to Kiss.

Coercion

The operation came to light when gardai investigated a premises which they believed was being used to distribute drugs. Inside they found two eastern European women in a distressed state.

Kiss also operated brothels in areas including Malahide and Sandyford.

Kiss of Moy House, Custom House Square, and Zeffer of Whitethorn Grove, Artane, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to organising prostitution at Burnell Square, Malahide Road, Dublin 13, on June 28, 2011.

Kiss also pleaded guilty to keeping or managing a brothel on the same date.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring sentenced Kiss to 18 months which was suspended on condition she pay €3,000 to the prostitution charity Ruhama. Zeffer was sentenced to six months, suspended on condition he pay €1,000 to the charity.

Judge Ring said the sex industry is one of the most profitable businesses in the world and prostitution is just one element. She noted that "none of the nastier elements such as trafficking" were present in this case but that coercion was "perhaps not far away."

"The organisation of prostitution is one that involves people who are vulnerable and therefore is an abuse of that vulnerability simply for financial gain."

Garda Sheila White told prosecuting counsel Maurice Coffey that there were several complaints from Malahide residents of men "coming and going" during the night.

Gardai were aware a well known drug dealer lived in the apartment complex and suspected he was selling drugs from there. When they searched the apartment they found two women who said they had flown over from Slovakia after seeing an advertisement in Hungary stating they could make money in Ireland through prostitution.

Zeffer was identified as one of the people who picked them up from the airport and a search of his apartment revealed a laptop and camera. The camera contained explicit pictures of women as well as pictures of them holding up an "EI" sign.

Mr Coffey explained that this stood for Escort Ireland which is a website used to advertise prostitution. The laptop contained advertisements Zeffer put on the site for the women as well as their flight details.

Zeffer made full admissions and Kiss handed herself into gardai shortly afterwards and admitted running the brothels.

Favours

The court heard Kiss paid a portion of her earnings to a senior figure in the sex trade.

Zeffer acted as a chauffeur for the prostitutes and continued this work after his divorce from Kiss in 2010. He was not paid but received sexual favours.

Barry Ward, defending Kiss, said his client is a Hungarian national who is qualified in marketing, public relations and teaching. She is currently working as a beautician.

She became involved in the business after working as an escort. He said she earned little money from brothels and was in no way a "kingpin."

Counsel for Zeffer, Seoirse O' Dunlaing, said his client is originally from Romania and has worked as a decorator since arriving in Ireland.

hnews@herald.ie

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