THEY would arrive discreetly and exit the same way, leaving the guests and staff of one of Edinburgh’s best known hotels completely in the dark.
It may not have been a regular occurrence, but should a call come to the then night manager, a visit from AaBella Escorts could be quickly arranged.
Roderick MacLeod worked for the four-star George Hotel in George Street between 2004 and 2009, and claimed at the trial he was handed the contact details for Paterson’s agency by another employee when he began the job.
“It was when I first started. I was given it along with the numbers of places like golf clubs,” the 45-year-old said told the trial.
“It was from a member of staff. I kept it in my personal phone.”
Mr MacLeod said that he would contact the agency “very infrequently”, adding up to “maybe ten times in five years”.
“A guest would approach the desk and say could I have a number for an escort agency for female company,” he said. “I would speak to Trish [Margaret Paterson] and say a guest was interested in an escort.
“Trish would call the hotel and ask to be put through to their room and speak to the guest.”
Mr MacLeod said that the vice girls would then come to the hotel dressed in “any manner of different outfits” to see the guest.
Then he admitted that he contacted the agency himself on one occasion, adding: “I was very drunk one night”.
Mr MacLeod said he spoke to Trish to request “female company”.
Asked by prosecution lawyer Paul Kearney if he asked for sex, he replied: “I thought it would be understood.
“The common assumption is that an escort agency is to provide girls for sex.”
Mr MacLeod was first interviewed by police on March 12 last year following the raids on the Grosvenor Street business. There is no suggestion that anyone else at the hotel was aware of what was going on.
Fellow client Darren Grant also gave evidence that he used prostitutes supplied by the escort service, asking them to come to his Edinburgh home. The 39-year-old told the court that he first contacted the agency four years ago, looking for “friendliness and a wee bit of sex at the time”.
He spoke on the phone to “Trish” to ask what girls were working and was told one hour would cost £140 while sex was “included in the price”.
Mr Grant said: “One of the girls came to the house. I invited them in. I asked how much it would be then started chatting then had a wee bit of sex and the girl went away.”
Interviewed by police in February last year, Grant told officers he used the agency over a year “any time I had the money”.
Grant said he had got back into a relationship in 2010, but phoned the agency again when it broke up.
He said: “It was Trish and she remembered me using the agency before.”
On one occasion in June 2011, Grant said a late-night text message to the agency which read: “Can I bk gillian trish please. can she wear just her underwear under and av the coat open when she is walking up the path to the door. I want the usual when she comes 2 the door. thanx darren.”
In the message, Grant described how he would be wearing his dressing gown and wanted a sexual act performed on him when he answered the door.
Asked in court if he once refused to pay a woman sent by the agency, Grant denied it, claiming that the vice girl had “flushed the money down the toilet”.
Kitchen manager Martin Cumberpatch also admitted using the escort agency, which he first contacted in March 2012.
The 44-year-old told the jury: “I used to live in England but I split up with my wife. It was just companionship really, someone to talk to.
“I asked if there was any girls available. They gave me a list of people on that night, two or three girls, then a name, brief description, looks, hair colour, things like that.”
Cumberpatch was told that “only Polish girls were available” and a woman was sent to his home in Bathgate for £140 for an hour.
He said: “I invited her in and we were just talking. She did mention if I wanted something else and said there would be no extra charge.
“She went through the services available and asked me if I was willing to do them.
“It was my first time using an agency but you hear things like that go on.”
Cumberpatch told the court that he “declined at first” but then had sex with the woman. The court heard how some clients wanted to indulge in sadomasochism or bondage with the agency prostitutes.
Giving evidence, vice girl Vikki Harkness said: “A guy wanted me to beat him. Trish had a riding crop and she told me what to do. I hadn’t really done it before. She told me what to do and say to the customer.”
Ms Harkness said that not all clients wanted sex while “some customers got nervous or were too drunk”. She added: “They maybe had nerves or had just broken up with their girlfriend.
“Some times you would just to listen to their problems. Some of them, most of them, are just lonely.”
The court heard that some clients did pay the women to spend time with them, including a pensioner living in Barnton who only wanted to watch movies.
Fellow prostitute Kellie Ann Bolton said that other clients would want the women to dress up, perhaps as a “French maid”, and occasionally meet them in pubs or nightclubs.
She said: “One man bought me a dress he wanted me to wear.
“Certain men are lonely. Twice, at most, I went to a bar to keep them company. I never had to pretend to be their girlfriend, but it probably happened with other girls.”
Ms Bolton said that having sex with the clients was “unpleasant enough” but she never refused to see a customer again.
She added: “They could be cheeky but I could deal with that. I was never scared. If I was scared then I wouldn’t have gone back.”
Ms Bolton said that clients would occasionally come to Grosvenor Street to meet the women in person.
She added: “Some guys would come in and pick the girl, see what they are getting, or order them for later.”
Agency sex worker Helen Kinnon said: “I would say that the majority of customers are looking for some kind of sex.
“I usually tried to keep them chatting so I did not have to do anything but that did not always work.”
Asked by Mr Kearney whether she enjoyed the work, Ms Kinnon replied: “Not really but lots of people don’t enjoy their job.”
Two days to search flat
POLICE visiting the flat belonging to Margaret Paterson found it so crammed with expensive clothes and handbags that it took two days to complete their search.
Bags from Harvey Nichols and Louis Vuitton were piled high on a bed and across floors, leaving little room for officers to walk. Many seemed to have never been taken out of their packaging.
The bathroom was also packed to bursting point with luxury goods which left the shower nearly inaccessible.
The hoard, which left police stunned and bemused, included bagfuls of cash kept in drawers and a safe