Kosovan who tried to 'better herself' by running brothel jailed

A KOSOVAN "madam" has been jailed for 10 months for running a brothel in premises registered as a massage parlour.

Police executed a search warrant on May 6 this year and discovered four double bedrooms, three of which had showers in the six rooms at the Phoenix Massage Parlour in Harehills, Leeds.

There were four prostitutes present along with Sandelina Bajrami who admitted being the owner of the business, Philip Adams, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday.

A Kosovan national who arrived in the UK in 2002 and was given indefinite leave to remain two years later, she said she had previously worked as a prostitute herself and had bought the business for 20,000 at the end of 2007 to try and improve her own life.

The landlord said she had taken over the tenancy in February last year, paying the 750 a month rent promptly.

Police decided to search the premises after becoming aware the massage parlour was being advertised as a brothel on various websites.

Bajrami said about 11 or 12 prostitutes used the premises at different times. Most were from Eastern Europe, countries such as Poland, Romania and Slovakia. She said she would check their documents to make sure

they were legal and draw up rotas for them.

The brothel was open from 10am to 9pm and she would provide bedding and towels, take phone calls and act as the receptionist when the customers arrived.

She explained she would take 15 as her cut from the charges, although one prostitute claimed that could be increased to 30 depending on the time customers spent there.

Mr Adams said Bajrami estimated she earned about 22,000 a year but said she paid normal deductions on that as if it was from a massage parlour.

Shufqat Khan, defending, said she realised what she had done was illegal but was trying to better her own life. She had borrowed money to buy the business and had been paying that back but still owed several thousand. She had done her best to provide a safe environment for the women who worked there even to providing leaflets on sexual health for those attending.

There was also no suggestion of coercion all those using the premises were doing so willingly.

Since her arrest she had been living on benefits and if jailed would be separated from her 15 month old son who was now at the centre of her life.

Bajrami, 35 admitted keeping a brothel between December 3, 2007 and May 6 this year.

Sentencing her, Judge Sally Cahill QC said "I have read and accept the reason you became involved in this line of offending was to better yourself and get yourself away from prostitution. Sadly that is not a good way of planning your life ahead."

She said bearing in mind the profits she was making and number of prostitutes involved only custody was appropriate.