Cheltenham brothel trial: Husband and wife could have made £430K court told
FOUR brothels in Cheltenham, run by a husband and wife team, could have made as much as £430,000.
And as many as 30 men could have been visiting the flats in prestigious parts of the town every day.
Barry Champion, 33, and his wife Ailing Zhuang, 41, of Berkeley Street, Cheltenham, have admitted operating brothels at four addresses, when they appeared at Gloucester Crown Court.
But they claim they did not make huge profits from the operation.
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Prosecutor Rupert Lowe said police surveillance captured 374 men visiting one of the properties in the space of 61 days.
He told the court he believed the brothels in Prestbury Road, Suffolk Road, Hewlett Road, and Pittville Lawn together had brought in a total of £430,000.
And he added that the pair had pocketed £184,000 of this over a period of three years and two months.
Zhuang claimed the prostitutes were taking around 70 per cent of the cash they earned from the brothels, which were charging £40 for 20 minutes and £90 an hour.
She told the court that 12 to 15 girls, mainly from south east Asia, worked at the brothels on a rotation basis and she found them by advertising in a Chinese newspaper.
But Mr Lowe said, as the girls changed locations every Monday, up to 190 could have worked at the spa town addresses.
Zhuang, speaking through an interpreter, said the women were never forced to carry out the work.
She said three payments of £4,000 were sent to her sister in China to pass on to the girls' families.
Defending Zhuang, Dermot Clarke, said she was a receptionist for a London-based brothel, which is where she came up with the idea of running one for herself.
She said there was no one above her controlling her or the girls.
She said they willingly worked as prostitutes as "they wanted to have a better life for their families".
She said she made around £8,000 a month, but had to pay the girls and costs out of that cash.
The court heard Champion had played a more minor role, acting as a driver for many of the girls.
Defending Champion, Lloyd Jenkins, described him as "devoted" to his wife he married in August 2011 and their two-year-old son.
She has another child in China.
The court heard the homes were taken out in assumed names and cash was used for rent and the deposits.
The trial continues today.