Former madam refuses to pay back millions

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The Independent Online

A former brothel madam ordered to pay back millions of pounds from the proceeds of her illicit businesses said today she will not be leave her luxury Mediterranean hideaway to face justice.

Diane Jones is enjoying the sunshine of northern Cyprus in a three-bedroom villa after failing to return from a holiday to the island.

The 46-year-old grandmother is believed to have made £4m managing The Ambassador Health Suite, Twice As Nice and Heaven, all in Cardiff, and St Tropez, in Swindon, with the help of four other women.

The Twice As Nice brothel was previously called A Touch Of Class and was where Plaid Cymru assembly member Dr Phil Williams died of a heart attack at the age of 64 in June 2003.

The original court case heard how the brothels typically took a combined total of £11,000 cash per week.

Jones, of Pwll Du, Llangain, Carmarthen, west Wales, was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court in January last year and was given a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years. She admitted running the brothels and concealing criminal property.

She then became the focus of a proceeds of crime investigation by the Regional Asset Recovery Team (Wales).

At Merthyr Crown Court last week, Jones was ordered to pay back £2.6 million of her illegal earnings within six months in a hearing that went ahead in her absence.

If she fails to pay within six months, Jones will be liable to serve a four-year prison term and will still owe the money.

The authorities are unlikely to be paid the cash according to Jones who spoke to the Glamorgan Gazette newspaper from her villa, complete with swimming pool, on the Turkish part of the island.

"I don't want to do four years in prison and I haven't got £2.6 million, so I've got to sit tight," she told the newspaper.

"I could have got a lot worse. I was expecting maybe six years and the amount to repay could have been as bad as £4m. I'm 47 in December. I would be stupid to come back,"

The former Bridgend pub landlady said she now plans to live on her savings and may even write her memoirs on the island. She also plans to release the ashes of her son Jeffrey into the Mediterranean Sea after he died from heroin abuse a year ago.

She also said she has finally turned her back on prostitution: "I'm sunbathing, swimming and reading. I've no work permit but I might do a course to teach English to adults as a foreign language.

"I want to use my brain instead of my body. I might write my memoirs."

After the court hearing last week, Det Chief Insp Chris Dodd, head of the Regional Asset Recovery Team (Wales) said: "The extent of Jones' offending bought her a significant lifestyle which we will now dismantle.

"Our colleagues in South Wales Police identified the original offences; the expertise of Regional Asset Recovery Team officers traced assets, restrained properties and obtained the confiscation orders.

"The Regional Asset Recovery Team will now assist the Courts Service to enforce the orders and ensure that Jones pays what is owed, or serves the additional sentence.

"This end-to-end co-operation will continue to be focused on those who seek to profit from such criminality."

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