A married couple who built a £3.8million brothel empire has escaped jail after it emerged they paid tax and were allowed to operate by police for 14 years.
Sandra ‘Sandy’ Hankin, 55, and her husband, Christopher ‘Mark’ Hankin, 57, of Denbighshire, North Wales, earned a fortune running two illicit brothels.
But after regular complaints from locals both premises were raided by police and shut down in 2016.
The couple pleaded guilty at At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, to keeping prostitution brothels and were sentenced to six months jail suspended for two years. They have been ordered to pay £350,000 or face jail.
The couple’s racket ‘Sandy’s Superstars’ was said to have ‘flourished’ in Northernden and Bury, Greater Manchester thanks to an agreement made with police.
Prostitutes were given regular security and health care checks courtesy of NHS officials during their stints.
Mrs Hankin, a former escort, known as ‘The Big Cheese’ never used under-age girls or women trafficked into the UK by people smugglers.
And the premises would be regularly checked by police to check and they would routinely paid taxes with HMRC inspectors who knew women were selling sexual services.
Greater Manchester Police had limited resources and priority was given to brothels that use underage people, trafficked women or are had organised crime.
The brothels also offered memberships to punters and even publicly promoted customer reviews it got on a ‘punters’ website.
The couple were arrested at their remote £500,000 farmhouse in Corwen, North Wales, after police faced increasing pressure to crack down on the illegal enterprise.
During raids officers discovered the women were advertised in folders neatly on the reception coffee table, which included their photographs and their ‘specialities’.
Scores of call girls advertised their services on a website telling of ‘specialities’ such as ‘Foot Worship’, ‘Face Sitting,’ ‘2 Girl Scene’ and ‘Toy Show’ and imposed a £100 an hour ‘house charge’.
Ledgers containing detailed business records of the illicit operation were found in the couple’s study and conservatory at home.
The website’s IT expert Adrian Burch, 44 was also given a six month suspended sentence and ordered to pay back £110,000.
He is said to be ‘devastated’ that the sex worker’s will no longer have ‘protection’.
The court heard how Hankin took over the Northernden brothel formerly known as Coco’s in 2002 after its previous owners left – leaving her in charge and she subsequently opened the other premises in Bury.
The brothels’ turned over more than two million between 2011 and 2014 and were ‘were strictly run commercial businesses with very high profits.’
Prosecutor Peter Cadwallader said: ‘This was a high end establishment charging high prices and had substantial turnover. The defendants ran the business well in the sense that no underage girls or trafficked girls were used.
‘The defendants kept copies of the passports of the sex workers to ensure they were older and were British. They kept copies to prove the ages of the sex workers. No alcohol or drugs were permitted in the premises.
‘Both brothels were well known to the police, but considering the resources they had, they limited themselves to checking the establishments to ensure that these brothels did not contain other more serious elements.
‘There was no element of exploitation. The defendants exploited prostitution and did so for a large financial gain – but many of the sex workers are career sex workers and there was no suggestion they were being coerced.’