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Convicted Dublin brothel keeper granted legal aid to appeal confiscation order

Martin Morgan
Martin Morgan

A convicted brothel keeper has been granted legal aid to appeal a confiscation order of €252,000.

Martin Morgan (52), with an address on Highbury Road, London, had pleaded not guilty to organising prostitution and running a brothel at a Bechelor's Walk apartment in the city centre on dates between August 22 to October 10, 2005.

He was found guilty by a jury and jailed for three years in 2008.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court subsequently granted an application to confiscate €252,908 in assets based on a calculation of what the net profit of the business was likely to have been.

Morgan is due to appeal that confiscation order and sought legal aid in the Court of Appeal today for his appeal.

His barrister, Diana Stuart BL, told the three-judge court that her client was "a man of straw" at this stage and inability to pursue his appeal had very serious consequences. He's liable to be imprisoned for three years if he doesn't pay, she said.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Fergal Foley BL, opposed the application.

If the state were to concede that Morgan was entitled to legal aid, Mr Foley said, it would effectively concede that he doesn't have criminal assets.

Granting legal aid, Mr Justice George Birmingham said Morgan was found guilty of "brothel keeping" following a "very lengthy" 19-day trial in which he funded his own representation of solicitor and two counsel. His conviction was affirmed on appeal.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Morgan had put an affidavit before the court today claiming he was not now a man of means.

Since his release from prison he was residing in the UK. He had attempted to set up a property maintenance company and despite initial success it was ultimately dissolved.

He's been living in his brother's apartment and occasionally doing odd jobs, the judge said.

Mr Justice Birmingham said it seemed appropriate on balance to follow the usual course and provide for legal aid. There was an advantage to him being represented when the issue wasn't part of the court's "daily diet".

If it turned out that he did have assets, that he ought to have been funding his own representation, the court would consider withdrawing legal aid at that stage.

The likelihood was that Morgan was a person whose finances had been looked at in some detail and there was no evidence funds had been recovered.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, granted legal aid.

Ruaidhrí Giblin