AN apartment owned by Brixton prison escapee Nessan Quinlivan was used as a brothel by South American women.
Three Brazilian women appeared in Limerick District Court yesterday where they received suspended prison sentences for running the brothel in the city.
Joiceline Costa Dos Santos (32) and Ana Christina Dos Santos (31) pleaded guilty to assisting in the management of the brothel while Marcia Da Silva (40) admitted keeping a brothel at the Limerick apartment contrary to Section 11 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993.
All three also pleaded guilty to obstructing Det Sgt Eamon O'Neill at the brothel at 34 Castlecourt apartments, Clancy Strand, Limerick.
There was no mention in court of Quinlivan being the landlord and nor is there any suggestion that he knew a brothel was being kept at the apartment which was rented to Ms Da Silva.
Det Sgt O'Neill told the court that he obtained a search warrant for the apartment as part of an investigation into the "running of brothels in Limerick city".
Accompanied by officers from Henry Street Garda Station, the officers had to break in the apartment door to gain access.
The three women were found inside. Items seized by gardai included €500, six mobile phones and a laptop computer.
The court heard that Ms Da Silva admitted she was the tenant and paid rent on a monthly basis to the owner. Ms Da Silva arrived in the country last April to attend a course in Dublin, but only attended one day.
The two other women arrived in Ireland last month.
Det Sgt O'Neill said the brothel had been in operation for a number of months. He accepted the women were "pawns" of a bigger operation.
Defence counsel said the three women had families back in Brazil to whom they sent money.
He said they all had origins in deep poverty. They arrived in the country from Spain and intended to return there.
Judge Tom O'Donnell said it seemed to him that the three women were "willing participants" in the venture.
The judge noted that the charges before him were "serious" and that it was a very well-resourced enterprise that had been in operation for a couple of months.
The judge also accepted that they had pleaded guilty at an early stage.
The three received a six-month suspended prison sentence and were ordered to be of good behaviour for 12 months. The judge ordered that they leave the Limerick city area within three days and that the €500 cash be used to assist them to leave the jurisdiction if they intended to return to Spain.
Nessan Quinlivan (43) is originally from Ballynanty Beg, Limerick. He escaped from Brixton Prison in London on July 7 1991 along with Pearse McAuley from Strabane, Co Tyrone.
At the time, the two had been awaiting trial on a number of charges arising from an IRA campaign in Britain, including conspiracy to murder former brewery executive, Charles Tidbury.
Both were subsequently arrested in the Republic, in April 1993, on firearms charges. Quinlivan was sentenced to four years in prison, McAuley to seven years. In December 1997, Quinlivan, who had been described by a senior garda officer as "an essential cog in the IRA", walked free from the Special Criminal Court when the DPP decided not to proceed with a charge of false imprisonment against him after the alleged victim was unavailable to give evidence in the case.
Quinlivan's younger brother, Maurice, is the Sinn Fein candidate in this year's local elections in the Limerick city north ward.
Maurice Quinlivan is expected to be appointed joint national treasurer of Sinn Fein at the party's ard fheis next month.