A brothel madam today dodged a jail term after she was found guilty of running a vice den in a luxury harbour apartment block.
Chin Chih Chang insisted she was a professional masseuse and had “no idea” the scantily clad young Asian she employed were selling sex to her clients.
But in reality Chang was selling sex through ads on Gumtree to local punters who paid between £80 and £110 a time for sessions at their home or in the flat in the upmarket Lord Gambier Wharf development in Kirkcaldy’s harbour district.
She had faced up to five years in prison when she returned to the town’s sheriff court for sentencing today – with a sheriff saying he was “looking at a term of two to three years”.
But he said judges were required to ensure “all steps should be taken to avoid the imprisonment of women if it’s not absolutely necessary” – and imposed unpaid work and an electronic tagging order instead.
During a five-day trial jurors and lawyers frequently descended into laughter as a series of punters gave evidence.
One told how he’d received a “Brucie bonus” as a scantily clad woman gave him an “unexpected bonus” of a “happy ending” after his back rub.
A police officer later told how he found a customer engaging in sex acts with a woman during a raid on the property – describing him as “cocky”.
But Chang insisted she was running a legitimate business – and said the £30,000 in dirty money she transferred to her native Taiwan was cash for her son.
Asked if she knew why the male clients would ask if other women were available when they turned up she said: “Some people want noodles today and rice tomorrow.”
Fiscal depute Ron Hay, in his closing speech to jurors, said Chang’s denials were “frankly ridiculous”.
He added: “Not only was the accused permitting prostitution, but she was managing provision of these services.”
A five-day trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard the ground floor flat was raided on May 31 last year.
PC Kevin Daglish told the court how he entered a room at the flat, which had initially been blocked by Chang, and found witness Alasdair McIntosh with his “buttocks in the air”.
He said: “I observed his buttocks in the air and underneath him was a female with her legs wrapped around him.
“I told him to get off and get up. He rolled off the female and has stood up.
“I would have expected him to have tried to cover up but he just stood there with a grin on his face as if he wasn’t bothered about the scenario.
“I had to tell him to go and get dressed. He walked with no shame, arrogantly. He was quite cocky.”
Mr McIntosh had earlier told the trial he had responded to a Gumtree advert and gone to the flat for a massage on his “sore back” – but had received an “unexpected bonus”.
Prospective client Andrew Wilson said he had arranged appointments by text with Chang – and received a reply offering “the girlfriend experience” or a “naked massage” but had arranged to pay £40 for a non-sexual service.
James Saunders later told how he had handed £80 to Chang before receiving a “topless massage” from a young Asian woman.
He said: “I got a phone number for it. It was in the paper. There was an advert for Tiffany’s massage services or something like that.
“I think I asked what was available and the age of the girls.”
Mr Saunders then told the court that the young girl had entered the room topless and was only wearing a pair of knickers during the massage.
Mr Saunders added that “if you pay a bit extra, you get oral sex”.
Barry Livingstone, 45, who lived in the same block as the brothel, told how he would see different men arriving at the flats throughout the day and later found an advert offering massages from the property online.
He told a friend, the earlier witness Alasdair McIntosh, about the property but claimed he didn’t know he had visited it until he saw him at court where he “burst out laughing”.
Chang, 53, of Eaton Road, Hove, Sussex, denied charges on indictment of keeping or managing a brothel at the flat in Lord Gambier Wharf, Kirkcaldy, between April 18, 2016 and May 31, 2017.
She further denied transferring criminal property out of Scotland on various occasions between April 19, 2016 and May 31, 2017.
But a jury took less than an hour to find her guilty of both charges by unanimous verdicts.
Defence solicitor David Bell said: “She is married though does not regularly co-habit with her husband – he lives in Brighton and she is in Hove.
“Her spousal visa is under review by the Home Office and this conviction will be taken into account.”
Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC imposed a community payback order with 300 hours unpaid work and a restriction of liberty order placing her on an electronic tag from 8pm til 6am for a year.
He said: “It was obvious to everybody in the case that these charges require to be treated as serious.
“They are not charges that come before the court every day.
“The English guidelines for a similar offence indicate I should be thinking of a sentence of two to three years imprisonment.
“You are however a first offender and I also have to consider the often expressed directions that judges are given that all steps should be taken to avoid the imprisonment of women if it’s not absolutely necessary to do so.”