Married couple locked up for running four Cheltenham brothels
A MARRIED couple have been jailed for running four brothels in Cheltenham.
Ailing Zhuang and Barry Champion made £180,000 profit from the operation, turning over £430,000 in three years.
Chinese illegal immigrant Zhuang, 42, has been jailed for 21 months at Gloucester Crown Court.
Husband Champion, 33, was jailed for a year.
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The couple, of Berkeley Street, Cheltenham, both admitted operating or assisting in the operation of brothels between 2009 and 2012.
Zhuang will be deported at the end of her sentence, unless she is granted asylum by the Home Secretary.
Sentencing Zhuang, Judge Jamie Tabor QC said: "You have been illegally in this country since July 2007. Within two years of your arrival, you began setting up a brothel and the reason for that was simply to enrich yourself with the added benefit that you wouldn't have to pay tax in the very country in which you chose to live.
"The business you set up was highly organised and undoubtedly required assistance from persons other than your husband.
"You continued for a period of at least 38 months in this lucrative business and only stopped when the police intervened. This was deliberate, considered and prolonged criminal activity.
"You dealt with the girls, you organised your customers, you collected the money from them and you arranged to move the girls on."
Prosecutor Rupert Lowe told the court police mounted a surveillance operation on one of the addresses and saw as many as 30 men visit in a day.
An address in Suffolk Road was watched by police for 61 days, during which 374 men visited, he said.
Mr Lowe said the prosecution estimated that as many as 190 girls had been involved in the racket.
Zhuang claimed in evidence that she used no more than 12 to 15 girls. She said the operation was all her own and there was no one else involved except her husband.
She denied suggestions she was working for a Chinese gang or that the girls she hired were being illegally trafficked.
But the judge ruled that "several dozen girls must have passed through her hands".
The judge told Champion that he was a front man for his wife – organising the rental of the four addresses used as brothels. Although a small cog in the operation, he was an important one, he said.
For Zhuang, Dermot Clarke said she was sending money back to China for the benefit of her 13-year-old child there.
She had applied for asylum to stay in the UK with Champion – whom she married in 2011 after meeting him in a Chinese restaurant – and their two year old child, he added.