TWO people found guilty of orchestrating a lucrative prostitution business have been jailed for five years.
Margaret Paterson, 61, and Robert Munro, also 61, were yesterday given custodial sentences for running an Edinburgh-based vice operation.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how the pair made hundreds of thousands of pounds from a criminal enterprise that operated across the UK.
An accomplice of the pair, Ian Goalen – who drove sex workers employed by Paterson and Munro to appointments with clients – was ordered to perform 150 hours community service.
The former bank manager, 59, was handed a non-custodial sentence because he provided police with evidence used to convict the pair.
During a ten-year period, Paterson and Munro ran a network of prostitutes all over Scotland and the north of England. The court heard how a former night manager of Edinburgh’s upmarket George Hotel used to phone the pair’s agency to book prostitutes for his guests.
But the lucrative operation came to an end when police raided their premises in the capital’s Grosvenor Street.
Officers found sex toys, designer shoes – and evidence that Paterson had gone on a £461,604 spending spree, earning her the nickname “Madam Moneybags”. Detectives found credit card records detailing how she bought luxury items from Harvey Nichols, Louis Vuitton and Mulberry.
Police officers who searched Paterson’s home also found £204,660 in cash, and mobile phones she and Munro used to arrange sex sessions for clients.
Passing sentence on Paterson and Munro yesterday, temporary judge Michael O’Grady condemned the pair.
Saying the pair exploited the women who worked for them, he added: “It has been an operation remarkable in its scope, sophistication and organisation – not to mention its profitability.
“It has also been remarkable for its cynicism. You constructed and maintained an elaborate, albeit paper-thin facade, portraying yourselves as an innocent escort agency, if that is not a contradiction in term.
“You persisted in this posture until the jury unanimously found it to be the palpable nonsense, which it was all along.”
The court heard that while Paterson was awaiting trial, she spent £4,250 on handbags. She also emptied a personal bank account of £24,500. Now the pair face having their assets confiscated – a proceeds of crime hearing has been arranged for next month. The trio were convicted of proceeds of crime and immoral earnings charges after trial at the High Court in Edinburgh last month and sentence was deferred for reports.
Paterson and Munro, both of addresses in Grosvenor Street, Edinburgh, and Goalen, of North Berwick, East Lothian, had originally pleaded not guilty to a total of seven charges.
The trial heard that the women who worked for the agency charged £150 for hour-long sex sessions. Each of them said they were struggling with their finances.
Speaking after sentencing, Lindsey Miller, head of the Crown’s serious organised crime division, said: “Margaret Paterson and Robert Munro exploited vulnerable women for their own profit. This conviction demonstrates our commitment to bringing to justice those who exploit others and seek to benefit from crime.”