The strange case of three ladies and a rubber vaulting horse

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The Independent Online
A court was shown the more "exotic" features of the world of prostitution yesterday when three women convicted of running a high-class brothel fought an attempt to confiscate some of the tools of their trade - including bondage equipment, uniforms and an assortment of fetish items.

One item in dispute was a rubber upholstered vaulting horse" decked with lacy stockings and with bondage straps attached to the bottom of the front legs.

Miss Vivien Walters, prosecuting, made an application for forfeiture as the items had been used "for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of any offence".

But defending, Mr John Blandford argued that prostitution, in itself, was not an offence. Police officers brought all the exhibits into the court to justify their retention, and PC Pinkie Methven listed the items they wanted to retain, including, "a quantity of dungeon paraphernalia".

After a special adjournment, it was agreed to give the three girls back large bags of condoms, packets of tissues, baby oil and lubricating jelly, with the police retaining sex aids, porn videos and magazines, the "dungeon" equipment, and a variety of uniforms, including nurse and schoolgirl outfits.

Samantha Herbert, 27, of Wychbury Court, Halesowen, West Midlands; Natasha Connor, 20, also of Wychbury Court, and Halima Samiullah, 19, of Tottenham Lane, Hornsey, London, all denied assisting in the management of a brothel at Cheniston Gardens, Kensington, between 6 November and December last year.

The court heard that observation had been kept on the brothel after neighbours called police to complain about comings and goings at the girls' first- floor flat. Under-cover police visited the premises and found that Herbert was working as the "maid", opening the door to men, answering the phone and making coffee while clients waited. Both Connor and Samiullah, it was said, met plain-clothes officers in a bedroom, dressed in black underwear.

Conditionally discharging the three for a year, magistrate Miss Ros Keating told them: "You've got to go and do something more sensible with yourselves."

She also ordered them each to pay pounds 90 costs.