Massage parlour wins fight against illegal brothel charge
THE owner of a massage parlour alleged to be an illegal brothel has been acquitted of prostitution-related charges after police failed to provide enough evidence a crime occurred.
Body Back and Feet Massage owner Chye Jean Cheah was found not guilty of one count each of knowingly participating in the provision of prostitution and possessing tainted property after a four-hour hearing in the Southport Magistrates Court yesterday.
Magistrate Kerry Magee also ordered police pay $1500 for Ms Cheah's legal fees.
The court was told police raided the Ashmore massage parlour on September 6 last year as a part of Operation Romeo Bailie targeting illegal brothels.
Undercover officers were offered a "hand job" for $20 when they went into Body Back and Feet Massage shop on Dominions Rd in Ashmore, the court was told.
Prosecutor Chris Freeman said Ms Cheah offered to organise two other woman to perform the service.
In a recording of the undercover operation played to the court, Ms Cheah was heard denying the massage parlour also offered "extras".
"We don't have sex here. No sex. Sorry," she said.
Ms Cheah agreed to provide a massage and takes one of the officers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, into a massage room, the court was told.
On the recording the officer can be heard asking for "extras" and it was agreed he would pay the extra $20 for a hand job.
The officer then identified himself as police.
He told the court yesterday he believed Ms Cheah would be the one to perform the sexual service.
In another recording of an interview with police, Ms Cheah denied the massage parlour advertised online they provided sexual services.
"No. Show me. Show me please. Can you show me please?" she said. "It's not us, it is next door. It is not us, you make a mistake."
Defence lawyer Michael Gatenby, of Gatenby Criminal Lawyers, said there was no case to answer.
"There is no evidence anyone else was involved," he said.
Under the law, to be convicted of knowingly participating in the provision of prostitution a third party must be involved in the transaction.
That is, it is not a crime for someone to agree to perform a sex act for cash themselves.
Magistrate Magee acquitted Ms Cheah of both charges.
"Those persons' names (on the bench charge sheet) were not mentioned in the course of the evidence," she said. "It is clear there were two other people available to provide massage at the premises. There is no evidence that they were in fact offering sexual services."
The massage parlour was temporarily declared an illegal brothel at the end of last year. Proceedings whether that declaration will be made permanent will be heard tomorrow.