Hotel manager fined over prostitutes
A TOWNSVILLE hotel manager who facilitated prostitution at a well-situated inner-city venue, charged workers an exorbitant $800 a day for a single room, a court has heard.
Yang Zhi Chen, 47, also asked the women to delete text message conversations to avoid detection by police, the Ayr Magistrates Court heard this week.
He pleaded guilty to one count each of having an interest in a premises used for the purposes of prostitution, knowingly participate in the provision of prostitution and possess tainted property.
Chen operates the Ridgemont Executive Motel in North Ward.
Police Prosecutor Acting Sergeant Tim Madsen said messages between Chen and the working girls revealed he was arranging rooms at the venue between July 27, 2017, and September 5, 2019.
"He was also informed that room five was being used by a working girl for $100 per hour," Acting Sgt Madsen said.
"As you go through the defendant also contacts persons and asks them to delete the messages they have had with him."
The court heard Chen was charging the women $800 a day for use of the room.
With the hotel's room rates ranging from $88 to $160 a night according to its website, Chen would have been making a 400-800 per cent profit a day.
The venue accommodates guests in a "stylish and comfortable room" and has "panoramic views of the city, Townsville surrounds over Magnetic Island", according to its website.
Acting Sgt Madsen labelled the offences as serious and said Chen had earnt a significant amount of money for the use of the hotel rooms.
"He is not responsible necessarily for managing the prostitution services but he most certainly was earning a significant amount of money for hotel rooms," he said.
The court heard Chen indicated to police he was unaware of his responsibilities as a manager or that he was doing anything wrong.
"That is quite obviously not the case because he is indicating to the person that he is texting that they need to delete the messages from him …," he said.
"He's quite clearly understood that what he was doing was illegal …"
Defence solicitor Danny Burke said Chen managed hotel room bookings and had many guests who advised him via text message that they would be staying at the hotel.
"He allowed the prostitution to occur on the premises," Mr Burke said. "He knowingly allows the girls to get involved in prostitution … despite knowing this he does not take any opportunity to end it."
When contacted by the Townsville Bulletin, Chen, who said his English wasn't great, denied charging $800 a day for rooms.
"I still think I'm not doing anything wrong," he said.
"I'm not making money, I'm not taking any commission, (I'm) only manager here.
"I'm only in charge of the room, that's all. Anyone come here, they pay the room, that's all."
He said he was no longer allowing the workers to stay at the business as he didn't want any trouble.
The court heard Chen had moved to Australia in 1988 where he has since been involved in a variety of business ventures including a takeaway chicken shop, and leasing two hotels located in Townsville and Melbourne.
Mr Burke labelled the offences as "extremely embarrassing" and said Chen was looking to get out of the hospitality trade.
"This is going to be extremely detrimental to any future employment in any other area," he said.
Magistrate Howard Osborne labelled the offence as serious and fined Chen $9000 with no convictions recorded.
"In circumstances where it is clear from reading the texts that he knew well what was going on in the motel," he said.
"He offended for a continuous period so I do believe it is a serious offence."