An escort had been working at an illegal brothel in Bendigo’s Galvin Street for just one day when she was arrested in a police raid on Monday.
Hui Liu, 55, a Chinese national living in South Melbourne, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates Court yesterday to operating as an unlicensed sex worker.
Prosecuting, Leading Senior Constable Dave Somerton said Bendigo detectives had executed a search warrant at the suspected brothel about 1.30pm on Monday.
“They were greeted by the accused and a male person who said he went there answering an ad in the escorts section of the Bendigo Advertiser,” Leading Senior Constable Somerton said.
The man told the detectives he had paid the accused $130 for 30 minutes of a “full service”, including sex.
Leading Senior Constable Somerton said Liu made no admissions when she was arrested and interviewed by police.
“The accused said she had performed escort duties on other occasions but was just doing massage in Bendigo.
“She said she did not have an escort licence.”
Leading Senior Constable Somerton said the raid was the culmination of a three-week investigation into the illegal brothel.
“There is no planning permit for these premises to be operated as a brothel,” he said. “People were referred to the service by a Frankston brothel.”
He said police were still investigating both operations.
Liu’s lawyer Megan Aumair, assisted by a Chinese interpreter, said her client had been living in Australia for seven years but had only been working in Bendigo for one day when she was arrested.
“She was asked to replace another worker,” Ms Aumair said.
She said Liu was “clearly distressed” at coming before court.
“She has no money. She has health problems, depression and anxiety,” Ms Aumair said.
“She would very much like to be in a different profession.”
Magistrate Catherine Lamble said she accepted Liu was a “lesser player” in the illegal operation but had to send a warning to other illegal escorts.
“It’s difficult to find an appropriate penalty because you don’t have any acknowledged income,” she said. “Nevertheless, you and others should be discouraged from this kind of activity in this city.”
Ms Lamble imposed a $500 fine without conviction.
“This can be paid by community work and that seems to be an appropriate way to deal with the matter,” she said.