Man accused of brothel keeping and extortion refused bail

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A man charged with brothel keeping and targeting building sites in an extortion racket must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan refused bail to 60-year-old Brian Gillan after describing his alleged offences as “insidious”.

Gillan, of Lurgan Road in Glenavy, was arrested in April during a series of police raids across Co Antrim and Belfast.

He denies counts of keeping a brothel operated at Agincourt Avenue in the city, possessing criminal property and blackmail.

Police observations, photographs and witness statements allegedly link him to the extortion of construction sites from September 2017 until his arrest, the court heard.

Prosecution counsel claimed evidence shows him attending businesses in the Crumlin and Glenavy areas each Friday to make collections.

“Police investigations show these building sites are blackmailed to pay money under the guise of protection money,” she contended.

“Failure to pay that money has resulted in some sites being damaged and property stolen.”

Gillan, who is on disability benefits, had up to £1,000 in cash on him when he was detained.

He also allegedly arranged the lease on the Belfast brothel said to have been run by Florin Ghita, 32, and 23-year-old Christina-Teodora Musa – both Romanian nationals.

According to the prosecution he placed Romanian prostitutes in the property and collected £1,000 a month, from which he paid out half in rent.

During police interviews Gillan denied knowing anything about sex work going on at the address.

Defence counsel Jonathan Browne said his client had been in a romantic relationship with Musa, holidaying with her in Romania and believing Ghita to be her cousin.

He argued that bail should be granted due to expected delays in the case, adding that Gillan’s two co-accused have both been released.

But citing the risks of reoffending and interference with witnesses, Sir Declan denied the application.

He added: “Blackmail is an offence which is insidious, it’s committed in conditions of absolute secrecy ... and it has significant consequences so far as the community is concerned.”