Cheltenham couple admit running four brothels in the town
A 33-YEAR-OLD Cheltenham man and his wife have admitted managing brothels at four addresses in the town.
Barry Champion and his wife Ailing Zhuang, 41, of Berkeley Street, Cheltenham, both pleaded guilty to being involved in the management of brothels in Prestbury Road, Suffolk Place, Hewlett Road, and Pittville Lawn when they appeared in Gloucester Crown Court yesterday.
But the two have pleaded not guilty to a similar charge relating to an address in Leckhampton Place.
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Prosecutor Martin Lanchester asked for a week for the Crown to consider the charge they have denied and the basis of their pleas to the other charges.
Judge William Hart agreed and remanded them both in custody until February 21.
The charges they have admitted span the period from June 2009 to September 2012.
The pair admitted managing the Prestbury Road brothel between June and December 2009; the Suffolk Place address between October 2009 and September 2012; the basement flat address in Hewlett Road from March 2011 to March 2012; and the Pittville Lawn flat from June and September 2012.
A Mandarin interpreter assisted Ms Zhuang, who is Chinese, during the brief hearing. Around 50 officers carried out simultaneous raids at the flats in Pittville Lawn and Suffolk Road in December.
During the operation, police vans pulled up near the suspected vice dens in broad daylight, before teams of officers carried out the strikes.
The swoop was part of Operation Beesmore – a co-ordinated crackdown on the town's illegal sex trade.
Workman Dennis Copestake was busy carrying out repairs at the Suffolk Road property when a police unit arrived shortly after 11am.
"I thought it was the SAS," he said. "It certainly gave me a shock to see so many police but we just stood aside and let them get on with their job."
Police hailed the operation a success, claiming both raids had been executed with minimum fuss. It is the biggest police operation against suspected vice crime in the town since Operation Pentameter II – a series of co-ordinated swoops in 2008 which resulted in 528 arrests across the UK.
It comes as Cheltenham Borough Council prepared to consider a report next week on the sex trade in the town.
Ms Zhuang came to Britain from China in 2007 and married her husband in 2008. They have one son.