The woman convicted of allowing a Dublin city centre apartment to be used as a brothel has claimed she owned "the whole escort operation" but denied she would earn up to €2m a year from it.
Deena Edridge, also known as "Chloe Taylor" agreed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the brothel would make several thousand Euro on average per day and that she made a profit of €4,100 from the 7pm - 5am shift on October 6, 2005 which was "the least busy day" that week.
She said she couldn’t remember the total amount of rent she paid per month for five premises she said were used in the brothel operation - at Bachelor’s Walk, Malton House in the International Financial Services Centre, Herbert Lane and Donnybrook Court in the Dublin 4 area and Ardee House in the Rathmines area.
Ms Edridge told defence counsel, Mr Michael O’Higgins SC (with Mr Sean Gillane BL) that the man on trial for running the brothel was a "good friend" with whom she "occasionally slept".
Mr Martin Morgan (44) with an address at Blackstock Road, London and formerly of Herbert Road, Blanchardstown has pleaded not guilty two charges arising out of the brothel allegation.
He denies he organised prostitution or that he acted or assisted in the management of a brothel on dates from August 22 to October 10, 2005.
Judge Frank O’Donnell has withdrawn a third charge that Mr Morgan allowed the Bachelor’s Walk apartment to be used for prostitution on those dates and has said he will direct the jury to return a "not guilty" verdict on it.
Ms Edridge was jailed for one year last April after she pleaded guilty to allowing the Bachelor's Walk apartment to be used as a brothel, to organising prostitution and to controlling the activities of more than one prostitute for that purpose on dates from August 22 to October 10, 2005.
Ms Edridge told Mr O’Higgins that when she came to Ireland five years ago she started working as an independent ‘escort’ operating from her own apartment and using her own phone.
She said her independent business changed into an escort agency when her friend and a few other girls joined her and started working out of the same apartment. She told Mr O’Higgins that she stopped trading as an escort and took up an administration role in the business while she was recuperating after surgery.
Ms Edridge, who studied business administration when she left school aged 16, said she organised the agency’s advertisements on web sites and magazines.
She said the phones seized in garda raids of the Bachelor’s Walk brothel and the alleged brothel call-centre in the International Financial Services district, were accumulated by her from girls who left the business and from taking over a similar operation.
Ms Edridge said she bought the new business - consisting of the web site www.dublinxxx.com as well as 15 phones and their lines - for €15, 000 from a man named "Paul".
She said she labelled these additional phones "new phones" and her original collection "old phones".
Ms Edridge said the Malton House receptionist would send a text message to three different phone numbers when booking girls for "call-outs". The text would be sent to the girl’s phone, her phone and a phone she kept spare and claimed was a "free phone" because all outgoing calls were free.
She told Mr O’Higgins that her boyfriend at the time had given her the "free phone" chip which she put into a phone and used to call home or to let the other girls call home.
She said the reason she didn’t use this phone as the primary business phone was because her business had been raided so many times and she didn’t want the gardai to confiscate it.
Ms Edridge said the premises at Herbert Lane, which she rented through a friend named "James King", was set up as a brothel but was closed down by plainclothes gardai on the first night of business. She said she was never charged after this raid and decided to keep renting the premises because she had paid a large deposit on it.
She told Mr O’Higgins that she let Mr Morgan stay in the house whenever he was in Ireland and that she used it mainly as a storage facility for business related items.
Ms Edridge said she had been robbed once of a day’s takings at knife point at a former residence in Lansdowne Cottages and was cautious about bringing anything brothel-related home with her.
She said she would always drive home along different routes and let her employees believe there was someone else in charge because "it was easier", as she had been robbed twice in Ireland and because of the numerous garda raids on her business.
Ms Edridge told Mr O’Higgins that Mr Morgan went to Malton House once because she asked him to retrieve a ring she had forgotten there from the receptionist. She said she had considered dropping her business and entering into contract with him running various escort web sites that he owned, but her operation "picked up" and no deal was signed.
Ms Edridge agreed with prosecuting counsel, Mr Fergal Foley BL, in cross-examination that the contract correctly stated she would work 50 hours a week including nights "running the web sites".
She told Mr Foley that she took half of what the girls made minus expenses like advertising, receptionists’ wages and rent. She said she was renting five Dublin premises - Bachelor’s Walk, Malton House, Herbert Lane, Donnybrook Court and Ardee House - as part of the brothel operation but she couldn’t remember the total amount of rent she paid per month.
Ms Edridge said she didn’t know how much she was paying for advertising per month or what her income was per annum.
Mr Foley suggested: "If you were the boss, you would have known precisely your outgoings and income."
She agreed with Mr Foley that on October 6, 2005 her total profit from the brothel for the 7pm - 5am shift €4,100 and that this was the least busy day that week.
She further agreed that the brothel would make several thousand Euro on average per day but denied that she would earn up to €2 million a year saying: "A lot of the money was put back in the business."
She said that "Chloe wages" appeared on many of the envelopes confiscated from Herbert Lane because it was a record of money she took for herself before she had done the accounts. She said it was "just a terminology, in that I was taking the money for myself."
The hearing continues before Judge Frank O’Donnell and a jury of eight women and four men.