Cops’ used COVID lockdown to launch illegal brothel blitz


The police Prostitution Enforcement Taskforce got busy during lockdown, stepping up surveillance of suspected illegal brothels, a court has been told.

The revelation came as a third person in three weeks faced Holland Park Magistrates Court on prostitution offences.

Jing Li, 58, unemployed masseuse, pleaded guilty to knowingly participating in the provision of prostitution at her Runcorn home and possessing tainted property.

The case came three weeks after QUT marketing graduate Jenn Huei Ting pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, the same charges after a raid at a massage parlour he ran in an Eight Mile Plains shopping centre.

Police prosecutor Constable Sanghyun Koh said it was alleged Li's offences occurred between February 1 and April 19.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic police conducted surveys on (premises suspected of involvement) in the sex industry,'' Constable Koh said.

"A police officer posing as a client entered the premises. Li led him to a bedroom in (a converted) garage.

"He met the sex worker, they discussed prices and negotiated a price of $200 an hour for a massage and full sexual services.''

At that point the police officer revealed his identity and detained both women.

Jing Li leaves Holland Park Magistrates Court.
Jing Li leaves Holland Park Magistrates Court.

Constable Koh said Li then threw two mobile phones she was holding over a fence into the front yard of the property.

He told the court Li admitted to knowing the boarder provided sex services, as she had no other income.

Li told police she placed ads for the sex worker and took a portion of her earnings as payment for rent and food.

The court heard Li was convicted of two similar charges 11 years ago but had no other criminal history.

Her Legal Aid solicitor, Alisha Radford, said her client had been the carer for her husband, who died a few weeks ago, before he was placed in a nursing home in 2018.

She had worked as a masseuse for many years to provide for her family.

But she was now unemployed due to a hand injury and had to rely on credit cards and loans from family members to survive.

Magistrate Sue Ganasan said she took into account Li's early guilty pleas and difficult personal circumstances.

She fined Li $900 and ordered she forfeit the two iPhones.

Originally published as Cops' used COVID lockdown to launch illegal brothel blitz