– Ann O’Brien from Cricklewood opened her first escort agency in Ireland in 1997
– At one stage she had 40 prostitutes on her books and 27 bank accounts
– She was previously convicted of three counts of running prostitutes in 2005
– O’Brien was jailed for ten years while her sister, Elizabeth Muya, got 21 months
A millionaire madam who ran two brothels and enslaved a Romanian woman to fund lavish home improvements was jailed for 10 years today.
Ann O’Brien, 44, and husband Martin Carroll, 47, splashed out on a loft conversion, ground floor extension, designer kitchen several giant flat screen TVs and even £10,000 curtains.
O’Brien opened her first three-girl escort agency in 1997 after leaving a small village in Kenya and heading to Ireland where she married her first husband Patrick O’Brien.
She was eventually managing 40 prostitutes and paying thousands of pounds into 27 bank accounts each week.
She paid a £400,000 deposit to buy a £1.27m Georgian townhouse in Upper Berkeley Street, Mayfair, to run as a brothel offering a choice of women from around the world.
O’Brien was also running two websites dubbed ‘brothels on wheels’ which sent girls to homes and hotel rooms.
Her sex menu offered services for between £40-£150 depending on the degree of sexual contact with girls from as far afield as Thailand, Brazil and Sweden.
O’Brien was convicted of three counts of controlling prostitution in 2005 but let off with a 180-community punishment order and ordered to pay back £600,000 of her fortune.
Officers from the Met’s financial investigations unit seized assets including the madam’s Kilburn High Road hairdressing salon, her car and what remained in her bank accounts.
But soon O’Brien had started business again, running two bordellos with her husband and sister.
She was convicted of charges including conspiracy to control prostitution for gain, facilitating travel of another person with a view to exploitation after her latest Southwark Crown Court trial.
Carroll and O’Brien’s sister Elizabeth Muya, 48, were found guilty of conspiracy to convert criminal property and two counts of keeping a brothel for prostitution.
Judge Simon Russel-Flint, QC, said: ‘This was serious criminality that exploited many people of considerable vulnerability.
‘In Ms O’Brien’s case this is the fourth time that she has been before a court for similar offending in respect of prostitution or management of brothels and I am satisfied that they do present as an escalation and added diversity.
‘Each of you defendants should know the suffering of the world of prostitution in addition to the misery it brings to many.
‘The lawlessness that accompanies it means that ordinary members of society take a very dim view of it indeed.
‘This was a well run commercially profitable enterprise from which you have all gained and stood to gain further and it is through your actions that those who you hold dear will be hurt.’
Prosecutor Alexander Agbamu said: ‘Ann O’Brien and Elizabeth Muya ran two London brothels.
‘They, along with Martin Carroll, laundered the proceeds of those brothels through sham companies which they had set up.
‘A number of people worked at these brothels.
‘One of those people had been trafficked from Romania and was subjected to conditions which amount to modern slavery.’
The police began investigating on March 22, 2017 at Stansted Airport when a Romanian man and woman made UK Border Force officers suspicious.
The woman had no money, no phone and no return ticket and she said that the man, Lucian Grosu, was her boyfriend.
Later that day police from the Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit went to Grosu’s address in Cricklewood, northwest London, and arrested him.
Mr Agbamu said Mr Grosu had used her as a sex worker.
He said: ‘Two women ran the brothel. They were Barbara, who was the boss, and Lucy. Ms Banciu understood that the women were sisters and that Barbara and Lucy were not their real names.’
Barbara was O’Brien’s alias and Lucy was Muya’s.
‘Lucian Grosu was also employed at the brothel, being paid to put up calling cards.’
‘Unlike the brothels’ other sex workers who would be paid their share from whatever they earned, Barbara or Lucy would give her share to Lucian.
‘Barbara and Lucy also bought drugs from him, also buying it from other sources. They would sell the drugs to clients.’
One brothel was on a residential street in Paddington and the other was in Covent Garden.
Clients would pay by cash or card and three business, were used to launder the profits.
O’Brien was arrested in her car and 21 wraps of cocaine were found on her at the time, worth just over £1,000.
Muya was arrested a short distance away and said, ‘Jesus, I have not trafficked anyone.’
Officers travelled to Cricklewood to arrest Carroll and arrest him at the bus stop.
He responded to their caution,
‘That’s b******s, I put my hand up to the rest but not that.
‘All I done was open up a bank account.’
Asked his thoughts on prostitution the Irishman sobbed before jurors: ‘Yuck, no interest – I wouldn’t fancy it.’
Carroll said he set up LMS Limo Services when O’Brien asked him to – they have been together for seven years and have two daughter – four and six.
The couple clasped in a desperate embrace before O’Brien was taken down to the cells and Carroll was left sobbing in the corridor outside court.
Grosu has already been convicted of facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploitation and controlling prostitution for gain.
O’Brien from Cricklewood, admitted conspiracy to convert criminal property and one count of keeping a brothel for prostitution.
She denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to control prostitution for gain, conspiracy to convert criminal property and one count of keeping a brothel for prostitution.
She was jailed for ten years.
Muya, also from Cricklewood, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to convert criminal property and two counts of keeping a brothel for prostitution.
She was cleared of conspiracy to control prostitution for gain.
She was jailed for 21 months.
Carroll, also from Cricklewood, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to convert criminal property and two counts of keeping a brothel for prostitution.
He was spared jail for the sake of the young daughters and sentenced to 18 months suspended for two years.
In addition he will serve 150 hours unpaid work.