Woman made thousands running brothel, court told

A 48-year-old mother made thousands of pounds a night by running a "busy and successful" brothel, a court heard today.

Emily Murphy managed and controlled a series of prostitutes at the brothel in Euston Road, north London, for two years, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

Along with her husband and daughter, she also put the money towards a mortgage and helped hide more than £45,000 in cash, prosecutor Edmund Vickers said.

Murphy, who was known by the prostitutes as Lulu, also used the cash to buy expensive holidays and vehicles.

Mr Vickers told the jury of seven men and five women: "Between June 2006 and Emily Murphy's arrest in June 2008, Emily Murphy ran a busy and successful brothel.

"She organised the girls, told them what to do, and collected the money."

Mr Vickers said she would "come and go as she pleased", staying for anything from 20 minutes to two hours, sent and received text messages from prostitutes asking about work, organised the rotas and was kept informed about the takings each night.

One message read: "Morning. S**t night, £1,890 in the book."

Murphy also organised the printing and distribution of calling cards and paid the rent on the property in cash each month.

Nigerian-born Murphy, her 51-year-old husband Owen, originally from Cork, and Kenyan-born daughter Rose, 25, used some of the cash as a deposit on a house valued at more than £200,000 for Rose Murphy at Gateway Court, The Uplands, in Bricket Wood, St Albans.

Mr Vickers said: "It was a very useful way of diverting some of the cash proceeds from the business."

All three defendants also had access to and control of a safe deposit box containing more than £45,000 in cash, Mr Vickers said, and Emily and Rose Murphy used false Republic of Ireland passports to support applications for tenancies or mortgages.

Emily Murphy, of Mount Pleasant Lane, Bricket Wood, St Albans, denies controlling prostitution for gain.

All three deny concealing criminal property and conspiracy to commit false accounting.

Both Emily and Rose Murphy deny possession of false identity documents with intent.

The defendants sat next to each other in the dock at the start of the four-week trial.

Undercover officers, working as part of Operation Lindop, carried out covert surveillance on the brothel from February 2008 and saw Emily Murphy carrying large quantities of cash in white envelopes, Mr Vickers said.

One of the so-called maids at the address, Susan Wright, will tell the jury how she knew Emily Murphy as Lulu and how she was in charge, Mr Vickers said.

He told the jurors they would see a number of text messages which "clearly show her to be in charge of the brothel", adding that several of the messages showed "clear instructions from Emily, managing and controlling the brothel".

One handwritten note to the prostitutes, which the court will hear was written by Emily Murphy, read simply: "Girls, this is a brothel", and reminded them of the correct etiquette.

Similar documents to those found in the brothel, including time sheets and rotas, were found in her home and on her husband's computer.

Price lists and details of how much the prostitutes ought to pay the brothel were also found, the court heard.

There were also "many unexplained cash deposits" in her bank account, Mr Vickers said.

When she was arrested on June 11, 2008, she had £2,090 in cash on her person, a further £2,840 was found in a safe at her home and more than £45,000 was discovered in a safe deposit box.

Mr Vickers added that neighbours will also tell the court how the brothel was a "nuisance" in Camden, north London, prompting the police investigation.

Earlier, the court heard Emily Murphy drove a black VW Touareg, a red Fiat Punto and a hired Nissan Primera.

Owen Murphy drove a Mercedes CLK 280 and Rose Murphy drove a black Mini convertible, both with "cherished" personalised number plates - B3 OWEN and R8 SEU respectively, the court heard.

The trial was adjourned to tomorrow.