Jailed brothel madam loses appeal

Margaret Paterson. Pic: Julie Bull
Margaret Paterson. Pic: Julie Bull
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A MADAM who ran a lucrative prostitution racket and her former partner in the business today lost their appeals against five-year jail sentences imposed on them.

Margaret Paterson, 61, claimed that the prison term imposed on her was excessive and that she should not have been made the subject of a rare financial reporting order which means she will have to reveal income and any substantial expenditure over an eight-year period.

Her counsel, Edward Targowski QC, told judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh: “She does find the prison regime extremely difficult to deal with and cope with.”

Her former associate Robert Munro, 62, also challenged the length of the sentence imposed on him last year by judge Michael O’Grady QC.

The bagpipe player intended to “revert to his previous lifestyle and go back into the piping activities which he performed with such skill and distinction prior to these activities”, his solicitor advocate Vincent Belmonte told the court.

But Lady Smith, who heard the appeal with Lord Philip, said the trial judge considered that evidence in the case indicated “a sophisticated criminal business”.

She said: “We are not persuaded that the custodial sentences imposed here were in anyway excessive.”

Lady Smith said the judge at their trial was also entitled to think it was correct to impose the financial reporting order on Paterson.

Mr Targowski argued that the sentencing judge did not take into account factors such as Paterson’s age, her lack of previous convictions and health problems.

He said: “What should be stressed in this case is that there is absolutely no question of people trafficking or force being used to make any person do anything against their will.”

Mr Belmonte said that the principle beneficiary of the crimes was Munro’s co-accused.

The pair were convicted of prostitution-related and criminal property offences after a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Paterson was convicted of laundering £700,000 and a further £544,000 while acting along with Munro.

They bought a property in Grosvenor Street which became a brothel and ran a nationwide escort business.

When police raided the premises in September 2011 they found sex toys, designer gear and evidence that Paterson, who was dubbed Madam Moneybags, had gone on a £460,000 spending spree in some of the capital’s most exclusive shops.

The pair also face confiscation proceedings to claw back profits of crime from them.