Mother cleared of running high-class brothel
A mother of two who boasted that her two favourite things were "sex and money", has been cleared of running a £500,000 (€623,000) prostitution business.
Marie McKinlay (40) had admitted acting as an "agent" for the high class prostitutes – but denied controlling them.
The court in London heard she made more than £350,000 (€436,000) for herself in less than two-and-a-half years by providing girls to clients who would pay up to £300 (€375) an hour for their services.
She had put two of her children through private school and paid £1,500 (€1,870) monthly rent on her house in Southampton with the cash, it was claimed.
Ms McKinlay, who is pregnant with her third child, raised her trembling hands to her mouth as she was cleared by the jury of eight men and four women of controlling prostitution for gain and converting criminal property between December 2008 and July 2011.
Ms McKinlay was accused of setting up The Allure Agency, recruiting and interviewing prostitutes and renting a flat in the London Bridge area of the capital for clients to meet them.
The trial at London's Southwark Crown Court was told she ran an international escort agency whose website offered 25 girls for explicit services from the "porn star experience" to the "girlfriend experience" and even offered lesbian "duos" for clients.
McKinlay rented a £1,500-a-month apartment for employees such as 'Sophie Sweetness' and 'Beth Angel' to service clients in the £500,000-a-year business.
They charged up to £300 an hour and £1,500 for overnight bookings. "There is no question of pretending it is just companionship," defence counsel Mark Seymour explained.
She told the court that she had been an escort herself until she quit due to pregnancy.
Ms McKinlay told jurors: "My two favourite things in the world are money and sex, I absolutely love both of them, and a job that allows me to put them both together, why wouldn't I?"
After her arrest, she was said to have told police she had created a "new type of agency" – "thought up over a couple of bottles of Chardonnay".
McKinlay said it was "not an appropriate" time to talk as she left the court.