Gotcha! Cop poses as client in Ipswich prostitution sting
AN offer of sex services to an undercover cop on Valentine's Day landed two women before an Ipswich court this week.
Chunru Xu, 42, from East Ipswich pleaded guilty in Ipswich Magistrates Court to knowingly participating in the provision of prostitution at Pink Clouds in East Ipswich on February 14.
A co-accused, Hang Wong, 52, made no plea on two charges alleging she advertised prostitution as massage services on January 24; and knowingly participated in the provision of prostitution at East Ipswich on February 14.
Wong's case was adjourned after her lawyer said the facts alleged by police regarding the publication charge did not fit the statutory description in the Prostitution Act.
Ms M Wang, the defence lawyer for Xu, said she would also act as a Mandarin speaking interpreter because her client did not speak English. Xu pleaded guilty to the charge.
Prosecutor Sergeant Brad Dick said the maximum penalty for a first conviction was three years jail.
"She says she did it of her own free will," Ms Wang said.
Sgt Dick said police received information that prostitution services were occurring at the Pink Clouds Massage at Brisbane Road.
"At midday on February 14 an undercover police officer attended the massage and was greeted by the co-accused (Ms Wong)," he said.
"A 14-minute (legal) massage was $50."
Sgt Dick said one of the women made a masturbating hand gesture, indicating a fee of $200.
The undercover police officer handed over four $50 notes and went into a massage room.
Sgt Dick said Xu attempted to grab the police officer on the crotch, before several police officers then entered the building and located the two women before the court.
"She (Xu) is 42 and from China and has been living in Australia since November 2017," Ms Wang said.
"Her daughter is at university.
"She used to work at a restaurant until it closed down.
"She was mistakenly told it was okay to work. She did not know it was illegal.
"I told her ignorance of the law is no excuse.
"She was not the one who negotiated the price.
"She started on February 1 and was charged on the 14th.
"She intends on returning to China as she is worried about her ageing parents."
Ms Wang sought a fine as punishment for Xu.
Sgt Dick said he was unsure of her immigration status but illegal prostitution was a serious offence and the penalty of a fine was not appropriate.
Magistrate David Shepherd noted that Xu spoke no English and had been employed by a person who spoke her language to provide sexual services.
"Arrangements were made by a person to an undercover police officer to receive those services," he said.
"You knew nothing about the illegality about that. It is apparent you were not the organiser but a mere participant in conduct you had not believed to be illegal."
Mr Shepherd said the business of prostitution was regulated by government with a licencing regimen to comply with.
That had not happened in this case and he also took into account she would be returning to China.
Xu was placed on a $500 good behaviour bond for four months with no conviction recorded.