Family ran online sex advertisement service in UK
WHEN convicted seven years ago for organising prostitution, former RUC reservist Peter McCormick had claimed he was no longer involved in the sex industry and was instead running a bed-and-breakfast business.
The judge in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court at that time took his pledge into account and suspended the two-year jail sentence he handed down to the ex-policeman.
The married father of three, who had an address at Lawnswood Grove in Stillorgan, Dublin, but was originally from Larne, Co Antrim, had been previously prosecuted under 'Operation Gladiator', a wide-ranging garda investigation into prostitution in Dublin.
But his new life as a B&B operator did not last and when gardai set up a new operation, codenamed 'Quest', he came under the spotlight again.
By then, McCormick had moved to Chester in England and had been heavily involved in a very lucrative internet service which carried advertisements for prostitutes throughout Ireland.
Advertising prostitution is not a criminal offence in the UK and McCormick set about building up a business, with his son Mark, and attracted hundreds of advertisers at a minimum charge of €250 a month for each advertisement.
In the meantime, Mark McCormick had established a network of six brothels throughout Dublin, while also using his computer skills to help out with the internet business and to keep financial records of the prostitution racket.
Some of the prostitutes told gardai they believed that Peter McCormick was the owner of the apartments in which they had worked.
But Dublin Circuit Criminal Court -- where Mark McCormick was found guilty yesterday of running a network of brothels in Dublin -- heard it was Mark McCormick who was "at the top of the ladder" and "there was no one above him".
Judge Tony Hunt noted that the profits indicated on spreadsheets were to be split between the father and son and another associate.
The court heard that the prostitutes were willing participants and there was no human trafficking or abuse of women involved.
Investigating gardai found many of the women, who advertised on the internet service and then worked in the brothels, agreed on a 50-50 split of the proceeds with Mark McCormick. Customers paid €130 for a half-hour visit to one of the brothels and €220 for an hour.
But Gerardine Rowley, of Ruhama, a support group for women affected by prostitution, said brothel keepers in Ireland were laughing because the internet allowed them to operate freely.
She called for up-to-date legislation to prosecute the people behind websites used by brothel keepers to advertise their business.
"Websites are out there trying to dupe people into believing that the sex trade is all about consenting women," Ms Rowley said.