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Brothel 'earnings' can't be calculated; Confiscation order for duo is denied.

Byline: Neil McKay

AJUDGE'S inability to calculate how many customers visited a massage parlour for full sex enabled a shamed former Northern Rock boss to keep the proceeds from his criminal activities.

Wealthy Newcastle IT consultant Stephen Hodgkiss, 45, funded a sex den for partner Waraporn Dodds, who sent the profits back to family in Thailand.

Dodds, 39, took all the money her workers made legitimately by selling massages, but told them they could make cash for themselves by providing "extras" for customers. But because a Crown Court judge said it was impossible to calculate the percentage of customers who visited the sex den in Major Street, Darlington for a lawful massage, and how many took up the offer of full sex he ruled that he was unable to order the confiscation of any of the couple's assets.

Computer expert Hodgkiss, who earned pounds 80,000 a year at Northern Rock, lived with Dodds in Jesmond, but had a wife and daughter living in Thailand.

Hodgkiss maintained he never personally profited from the sex den in Major Street, Darlington.

The couple had already opened a massage parlour in Shortridge Terrace, Jesmond, but police shut it down in August 2005. By May 2006, Dodds was asking her partner to acquire a property in Darlington.

The couple's sordid double-life was revealed when police closed down the two-bedroom terraced vice-den in February last year.

After being alerted by suspicious neighbours, a police "test purchaser" visited the house, discovering two scantily-clad Oriental girls offering sexual favours.

Hodgkiss and Dodds, both of St George's Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle, admitted running a brothel at an earlier hearing and in November last year Hodgkiss was jailed for eight months and Dodds for six months by Judge Christopher Prince.

Yesterday, having completed their sentences, the pair found themselves in front of the same judge at Durham Crown Court when the Crown Prosecution Service applied for the forfeiture of pounds 21,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Their barristers maintained that, because they had only taken money from lawful massages they had not profited from any criminal activities. Christopher Williamson, for the prosecution, argued that the scantily clad Oriental girls offering massages "were hardly dressed as physiotherapists".

He added that, since Hodgson had bought 1,800 condoms, he "must have had some idea what was going on".

But the judge ruled that he could not possibly calculate the percentage of the estimated 28 men per week who visited the premises simply for "a massage from a scantily clad young lady which is quite lawful, and those who ordered a massage as a precursor to more sexual activity."

He said he was not prepared to guess at a figure which would be "quite arbitrary" and therefore rejected the confiscation order. Neither Hodgkiss nor Dodds would comment as they left the court.

CAPTION(S):

NO PAYMENT Stephen Hodgkiss, left and Waraporn Dodds did not have to pay back proceeds they allegedly made from their brothel.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 13, 2009
Words:494
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