By Katie Grant
An elderly cleaner is facing trial for brothel-keeping after rushing to the aid of a man who collapsed at the massage parlour where she worked and attempting to save his life.
The “vulnerable” pensioner, who insists she had nothing to do with the running of the premises, has been “persecuted” by police following her rescue attempt when she should have been “applauded” for trying to help when others at the scene fled, according to the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), which has rallied behind her.
The 70-year-old woman, identified only as Ms C Norman, was working as a part-time cleaner at Bunnies Ranch massage parlour in Dorset when the incident took place in May last year.
Charged by police after tending to dying man
Ms Norman said she alerted the emergency services, performed CPR on the man and waited with him until the paramedics arrived.
Despite her best attempts to save his life the man subsequently died. Police apprehended the cleaner and charged her with brothel-keeping, an accusation she denies.
Ms Norman stressed that she did not hold keys to the premises or pay rent or utility bills and had no involvement with the running of Bunnies Ranch, which continues to operate today.
‘Distraught’ at charges
The pensioner, who is due to appear at Poole Magistrates Court on 25 July, said she was “distraught” at the allegations being leveled against her and has implored the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to drop the charges.
“A man died despite all that I did to try and save him. I’ve had no support for this trauma and instead I’m being prosecuted,” Ms Norman said in a statement shared by the ECP.
“I am distraught at the thought that I will have to go to court to fight this,” she added.
What are the laws surrounding prostitution in the UK?
Exchanging sex for money or goods is legal in England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland, for people aged over 18, providing the seller has not been forced into prostitution.
However, many activities associated with the buying and selling of sex are criminalised. Loitering or soliciting for the purposes of prostitution, kerb-crawling, pimping, owning or managing a brothel and marketing services through advertisements are all prohibited.
Many prostitutes prefer to work in pairs for safety, but brothel-keeping laws make this illegal. Any kind of property, including private flats, can be classed as a brothel if it is used by more than one worker for prostitution, even if they are not providing sex for money on the same days as each other.
The number of sex workers in the UK is estimated to be around 72,800, with about 32,000 working in London. Around 11 per cent of British men aged 16–74 have paid for sex on at least one occasion, which equates to 2.3 million individuals, according to the Home Office.
The ECP is encouraging concerned members of the public to write to the CPS and the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to demand the “perverse” charges be dropped.
Women who worked at the massage parlour are too “frightened” to come forward with evidence that could clear Ms Norman’s name, according to the ECP, which claimed the authorities were aware that the pensioner did not run Bunnies Ranch.
Cari Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the organisation said: “This is a malicious prosecution of an elderly, vulnerable woman who used her good instincts and knowledge of First Aid to try and save a man’s life.
“She is being persecuted by the police when she should have been applauded for what she did.”
Ms Mitchell continued: “She is devastated that her truthfulness to the police has been used against her.”
She added: “For this prosecution to proceed is nothing short of perverse.”
i contacted Dorset Police, which declined to comment. Bunnies Ranch also declined to comment.