Two Hungarian women working as prostitutes in Ireland described their brothel-keeper as a "second mother" and a friend, a court has heard.
Diana Karacsony (32) was ordered to pay €10,000 over to Ruhama, a charity that works with women affected by prostitution, after admitting her role in managing a brothel.
The Hungarian national pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assisting in keeping and managing a brothel in an apartment at The Asgard, Custom House Harbour, Dublin 1 on dates between January 1, 2011 and May 30, 2012.
Detective Garda David Kenny told Diarmaid Collins BL, prosecuting, that there was no evidence that any of the 25 Hungarian women gardai believed to be have been working out of the brothel as prostitutes were trafficked, coerced or "anything other than willing".
He agreed that "the operation was run in a very professional manner". The accused took 40pc of the hourly rates charged.
One of the prostitutes said that she came to Ireland from Hungary to work for short periods. After one 14-day period she said was able to send €5,000 home to support her family and her studies.
After another, ten-day, period she went home with €3,500. She said she had also worked as a prostitute in Austria, but that the money was better in Ireland.
This woman, who was arrested when gardai raided the brothel, told investigators she was not in fear of the accused and described her as her friend.
She said she relied on the accused to make sure the premises were safe. She said the accused worked hard cooking and cleaning and that the prostitutes viewed Karacsony as their "second mother".
Judge Catherine Murphy suspended a sentence of two years imprisonment on condition that Karacsony, who now resides in Budapest, pay the donation to Ruhama immediately.
She said she was taking into consideration the relative youth of the accused, the absence of any previous convictions, and the helpful admissions she made to gardai.
James Dwyer BL, defending, said the offence was in a legally murky area. He said the legislature had decided that prostitution was not a criminal offence whereas keeping a brothel is illegal.
He said his client had consulted a website about the legalities and this website had said prostitution was legal here.
Karacsony told gardai: "We live here as family and try to stay safe. We checked the website. We were happy there is a country we can earn the money."
Counsel said Karacsony had worked as a prostitute herself and wanted to provide a safe place for the women to work. She said that all the women worked for themselves and were free to come and go.
Judge Murphy commented that the accused was earning a very good living from the women's sex work and Mr Dwyer said that was before expenses were taken into account.
She was involved in helping with cooking, cleaning, phones, paying rent, keeping materials in stock, taking calls from clients, he said.
Counsel said his client had come back from Budapest to meet these charges. She is now working in a more humble job and earning €300 a month.
Mr Dwyer said she drifted into prostitution in her early 20s when she was in a position of financial vulnerability and had worked as a prostitute in Copenhagen and Germany.
In 2011, gardai began an investigation into the prostitution services being advertised on a website here. They made calls to mobile phone numbers on the site and undercover gardai met some of the women and confirmed that sexual services were being offered.