The Court of Criminal Appeal reserved its decision today on a bid by a Dublin man to overturn his conviction for prostitution offences.
The CCA said it hoped to deliver judgement during the next legal term on an appeal brought by Martin Morgan against his conviction for organising prostitution and running a city centre brothel at a Bachelor’s Walk apartment on dates from August 22 to October 10, 2005.
Morgan, (aged 46) of Herbert Road, Blanchardstown and with an address at Blackstock Road, London, was jailed for three years and fined €24,000 in March 2008.
He was arrested following a surveillance operation, part of the “Quest” Garda investigation into organised criminal prostitution.
Following his conviction at the Dublin Circuit Court after an 18-day trial, Judge Frank O’Donnell described the operation as “highly sophisticated and highly rewarding and not a petty little business working on a shoe string.”
Mr Michael O’Higgins SC, for Morgan, today told the three-judge appeal court that his client’s appeal centred on a number of grounds, including issues concerning the warrant used to search his client’s residence and the admissibility of certain “prejudicial” documents at his trial.
The Dublin man was detained along with English woman, Deena Edridge, when gardaí raided the Bachelors Walk apartment on October 10, 2005.
She was jailed for one year in April 2007 after pleading guilty to allowing the 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.
Today, Counsel for Morgan, argued there was “insufficient and inadequate” information on which to form a view that the issuing of a warrant for searching Mr Morgan's home was necessary.
The court heard there was also “jurisdictional” concerns regarding the issuing judge.
Arguments were put forward on behalf of Mr Morgan as to the admissibility of a “contract of employment” between him and Ms Edridge which was seen by the jury as a “hearsay document” during the trial.
The court heard this linked the two, resulting in “an impossible onus” being placed on the jury.
Ms Edridge told Morgan’s trial that she owned “the whole escort operation”. She accepted that the brothel made several thousand euro on average per day but denied she would earn €2m a year as the owner.
Mr O’Higgins SC also argued the failure to attach an accomplice warning to the evidence of a key witness in the case against Morgan had been an error on the part of the trial judge.
The court was told the person in question satisfied the definition of an accomplice witness as she was herself “steeped” in activity that was “clearly unlawful” and was therefore liable “to say something to lessen the trouble” she may have been in.
The State opposed Mr Morgan’s conviction appeal.
Mr Fergal Foley BL, for the DPP, said the evidence of an important witness in the case did not attract an accomplice warning because she was just “a step in the communications chain” and sufficiently.
The CCA of Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, sitting with Mr Justice Michael Hanna and Mr Justice Brian McGovern reserved its judgement.
The court heard Mr Morgan is likely to be released from prison this coming May.