30/04/2010

Bedfordshire Brothel Mum Cleared

A middle-aged mother has been cleared of all accusations that she was running a brothel out of her bedfordshire bungalow.

Claire Astrid Finch, 49, had fought the case - against over whelming evidence - to highlight the plight of prostitutes who want to work from home, but want the safety of having other women with them.

She offered topless massage "with happy endings" from her bungalow in a cul-de-sac in a quiet Bedfordshire village, and advertised in local newspapers.

Other middle-aged women would work from the bungalow, complete with swimming pool, but there were never more than four working at a time.

She told police she did not provide other services but some of her colleagues did.

She would take a percentage of their fees for their use of the premises and her advertising.

Then, in November 2008, a large number of police raided the property and she was arrested.
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Prosecutor Samantha Cohen told the jury at Luton Crown Court: "A brothel is a premises where sexual services are offered by more than one person. Ms Finch works as a prostitute and has done so for many years."

But after she pleaded not guilty to keeping a brothel between November 2004 and November 2008, she was unanimously cleared by a jury of eight men and four women after they had deliberated for just an hour and a half.

The verdicts was greeted with cheers from a large group of supporters who had been present during the four day trial.

Miss Finch told the jury: "I wanted to work with a second person. It is not only safety, it is camaraderie.

"It wasn't all sex. A lot of clients said they like to come because it was clean and safe."

Outside court the mother of two said: "This is a victory for women who want to do this work from the safety of their houses.

"This has been 16 months of sheer hell for me but today I have had my own happy ending.

"I will now do whatever I can to campaign to have the law changed."

The International Prostitutes Collective said: "This 'not guilty' verdict greatly strengthens the case for prostitution to be decriminalised so that women are able to work more safely together as in New Zealand."

(LB/BMcC)

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