Brothel madam wins back seized cameras
REVENGE: Gardai warn judge of their 'blackmail' fears
A BROTHEL-keeper has won a court bid to have seized video equipment and mobile phones returned but the equipment must first be wiped as gardai fear the woman is attempting revenge on clients who testified against her.
The judge granted the return of the CCTV system and phones to the Chinese madam, but ordered that they are to be first wiped of all information after gardai said this could be used to "embarrass, blackmail or extort" the prosecution witnesses.
Dublin District Court heard one of the clients had been suicidal following media coverage of the criminal case in which he was named.
Jun Kiu Hua (46) was convicted last year of running a brothel following a raid on her Thomas Street massage parlour in April 2009, and has since been deported. Jun brought a Police Property application seeking the return of the CCTV set and five business phones taken from her Thomas Street brothel when it was raided. Her court application followed a settlement with CAB.
She was described as a woman of "very considerable wealth" who had amassed more than €1m in the four years she had been in Ireland on a student visa and sent €660,000 of it back home to China.
Judge Victor Blake ordered the return of the "cleaned" equipment, as well as €900, £50 and 2,653 Chinese yuan in cash seized from her home at Manor Street.
Other items, including her personal documentation, nursing qualification and a laptop had already been returned, the court heard.
Garda Ciaran Byrne said the brothel was one of three raided, with large amounts of money seized.
A total of €231,000 was seized, with €660,000 sent back to China. In January 2010, one of the witnesses received a text telling him not to go to court and informing him that there would be "consequences" if he did. The source of the text was not found.
Garda Byrne said Jun had "tried to frustrate the investigation at every turn". She had refused to provide the password to unlock the CCTV hard drive, which had two months of footage from the brothel.
He said a website had been set up, he believed by the accused under the name "Tina," which included large amounts of information about the case. Serious allegations had been posted on this site about members of the gardai, along with witness statements.
He believed information from the equipment could be posted on this site if returned. Garda Byrne said he had tried to make a compromise in which the items could be cleaned of information and returned intact.
"I believe she wants the return of the items to embarrass the witnesses as revenge for losing her case and her very profitable business," Garda Byrne said. "I just don't want witnesses who have assisted the State in convicting Jun Kiu Hua being blackmailed or extorted."
One witness told gardai he had been suicidal about what had been printed about him.