Couple who advertised brothel on M1 billboard avoid jail

The brothel was on an industrial estate (Google Maps)
The brothel was on an industrial estate (Google Maps)

A couple who ran a 'professional' brothel and even brazenly advertised the business on a billboard on the M1 have avoided custody

Private Zone, which was run from Ashley Industrial Estate, Ossett, was raided by police in 2017 after gathering intelligence that illegal sexual activity was taking place.

The entrance to Ashley Industrial Estate, where Private Zone was advertised (Google Maps)

The entrance to Ashley Industrial Estate, where Private Zone was advertised (Google Maps)

Run by 43-year-old Mircea Michnea and his partner, 31-year-old Monica Nemes, they both denied it was a brothel used for prostitution claiming it was a massage parlour.

The pair, who live on Wakefield Road, Ossett, were found guilty on Friday following a trial.

The court was told how the couple had set the business up in 2015.

During inspections it was found there was no evidence of trafficking among those working at the business.

They were found to be physically healthy, had their own mobile phones, some had cars, they had their passports and their bank cards, were routinely paid and could leave when they chose.

Working conditions were found to be fine and as "safe as they could be" according to the couple's defending barrister, James Lake, who spoke in mitigation for the pair at yesterday's sentencing hearing.

There was also evidence of contraception in the workers' personal belongings.

Mr Lake added: "The environment was a better one than the alternative to be 'out there'.

"They were not being controlled or coerced."

He said the company paid its taxes and "everything was done by the book."

Advertising on websites, it was described as a being a "luxurious boudoir parlour", that has "everything to meet your needs", including bondage and domination, and that customers would leave "totally satisfied".

Police said that being close to the M1, they even advertised with a billboard.

Appearing before Leeds Crown Court, and with a Romanian interpreter translating for the couple, Recorder of Leeds Judge Guy Kearl QC said: "You may have set it up to offer massage services but the premises were operated as a brothel.

"Having said that, this is a most unusual case - there's no suggestion of modern-day slavery, that the girls were trafficked or coerced or subject to any kind of violence.

"There were numerous visits by Wakefield Council and the police and found no impropriety during those visits.

"There were no drugs or alcohol allowed in the premises and the girls were well cared-for within a relatively safe environment.

"But it was a commercial enterprise, you had an expectation of significant financial gain.

"It was a professional set up. The fact that there were no massage tables and only beds, made it obvious it was a brothel.

"You can't have brothels existing in our communities."

Judge Kearl QC accepted that Nemes had only been a receptionist at the business but was satisfied she knew that sexual activity had been taking place.

She was given a community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.

Michnea was given a a two-year jail sentence, suspended for two years.

Judge Kearl QC said that the couple must return to court at a later date once the proceeds of their business have been assessed, which they face having to pay back.

Speaking after sentencing Detective Inspector Jordan Piper of Wakefield Safeguarding said: “Both of these individuals claimed to be running a legal business and even promoted it with a billboard on the M1 motorway.

“Instead, they were using the premises as a front to manage illegal sexual activity inside.

“It was felt necessary and right to bring this matter before the courts and we are pleased the jury has found them guilty and that they have now both been sentenced.”