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Brothel keeper gets taxi licence to pay off a fine

A CONVICTED brothel keeper was yesterday granted a taxi licence after a court heard she needed to work as a cabbie to pay off a ?14,600 fine.

Justine Reilly (36) challenged a Garda decision to refuse her a public-service vehicle licence after she failed to state on her application form she had a conviction for brothel keeping.

Ms Reilly, from Clonskeagh in Dublin, was fined ?14,600 and given a suspended 12-month prison sentence in March 2001 when she pleaded guilty to keeping and managing three brothels between October 1999 and March 2000.

Yesterday, Dublin District Court heard she needed to make money to pay the fine or else she would have to serve a prison sentence which was suspended until March 2004 providing she keeps out of trouble and pays the fine.

She expected to work for someone else rather than buy a cab herself. She said since her conviction she had been ostracised by her family and was on her own. She had done a number of jobs, including cleaning and working in bars and restaurants, but it was not enough to meet the fine.

"I made a mistake and I lost my family and all contact with them through shame and humiliation," she said.

The brothel operation she had been involved in was a joint arrangement between herself and other women who had previously worked for "unsavoury characters."

"Myself and a few girls decided to get an apartment and when the police came I accepted responsibility because these other girls had husbands and children and I didn't. I went forward and said I was responsible, although I did not realise the seriousness of the situation." She believed that when she was fined that this was not a criminal conviction.

"I thought you had to go to prison to have a conviction and that is why I didn't put it on the form" (for the taxi licence).

The Circuit Court last year was told she was earning about ?3,800 a week from the operation of brothels in Parnell Street, Portobello, and New Row Square in the Liberties.

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Judge Sean MacBride said it was a difficult case but he was prepared to grant the licence on the undertaking that she would not re-engage "in her former activities and be law-abiding for the rest of her life."

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