Jail for couple who ran €70,000-a-week ring of 35 brothels
AN Irishman was jailed for seven years yesterday for operating a network of 35 brothels here and in Northern Ireland from his home in Wales.
Thomas 'TJ' Carroll (48), originally from Carlow, and his South African partner, Shamiela Clark (32), admitted running the racket, which involved a ring of trafficked young women and girls, from their base in Pembrokeshire.
Clark was jailed for three-and-a-half years at Cardiff Crown Court while Carroll's daughter, Toma Carroll (26) was imprisoned for two years for her part in laundering profits.
Ms Carroll was freed immediately because of the time she had spent in custody awaiting trial. The former law student was arrested in Wales during a visit to see her father.
The court heard that in one year the profits amounted to €1m. A garda inquiry into the prostitution racket here showed Carroll and his associates were raking in around €70,000-a-week before the recession hit their business.
Carroll and Clark confessed to a charge of money laundering and also pleaded guilty to conspiring to control prostitutes, including women trafficked into Ireland from Nigeria, Brazil, Venezuela and Portugal.
The court heard that the pair had moved their "headquarters" to Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire, after gardai had uncovered the racket in the Republic and Northern Ireland.
The ring was supplied with vulnerable young women and girls, who were subjected to bizarre rituals by their traffickers to scare them.
Some of them were forced into coffins and witnessed chicken slaughter before they were sent from Nigeria and coerced into the lucrative prostitution racket.
Clark, a former prostitute who used the name 'Carmen', ran a call centre where she co-ordinated the brothels, took calls from clients, organised accommodation and placed advertisements in newspapers.
Robert Davies, prosecuting, said the business had used foreign sex workers "so they would not have homes to go to at night".
The Nigerian women also underwent "terrifying and humiliating" rituals involving menstrual blood and killing chickens to "put the fear of death in them", Judge Neil Bidder was told.
Instead of the promised work as hairdressers and seamstresses, they were sent to apartments in the Republic and in the North and put to work as prostitutes. Some of the girls were as young as 15.
"They were cynically catapulted into a miserable existence and exploited," Mr Davies said.
Passing sentence, the judge told Carroll and Clark they did not ask and did not care what personal tragedies had befallen the women forced to work for them.