THE respectable elderly father and stepmother of a former Padbury man were shocked to learn he had been convicted of keeping a brothel this week.
Michael Gough, 51, pleaded guilty to the charge at St Albans Crown Court on Wednesday, and was handed a suspended prison sentence.
But when the Advertiser spoke to his 79-year-old father, also called Michael, and stepmother Mavis, aged 76, yesterday they were visibly shaken by the news.
The well-respected couple, who are active members of the village community, said: “We are appalled. We had no idea.”
Gough had given their address, in Main Street, Padbury, as his home address for the court case.
But retired dairyman, Mr Gough Snr said, although it had been Gough’s childhood home, he did not live there but still used it as a postal address.
Gough was brought to court after police carried out a raid on a house in Hatfield, following complaints by the neighbours that it was being run as a brothel.
Prosecutor Edward Lewis said the brothel advertised in newspapers and on the internet as Little Coconut Palace Massage with a contact number.
When customers rang the number they were given the address, in Heathcote Road, Hatfield.
“It was a three-bedroom semi-detached house in a well-kept, thoroughly respectable street. A stream of men going into the house were causing a severe nuisance,” said Mr Lewis.
On April 12 last year, police armed with a search warrant went to the house.
They found two Thai women in dressing gowns. In one bedroom upstairs there were two condoms on the bed, baby oil, wipes and tissues. In a second bedroom there were more condoms and sex toys.
The third, smaller bedroom was where Gough was sleeping.
A Green Punto car, belonging to Gough’s Thai girlfriend, had a box of condoms in the boot. She was out of the country, in Thailand, at the time. Gough had £1,415 on him.
One of the women told the police she worked between 10am and 10pm, Monday to Saturday.
She said there were five or six customers a day who paid £60 for 30 minutes and £100 for an hour and extra services were offered.
Gough was said to take the money and gave them 50 per cent from each customer.
When questioned, Gough said he had bought the business at the start of 2010 for £7,000 from a man he had worked for. The money had come from a redundancy payment.
He said the girls only did massage and aromatherapy.
He was asked if the girls gave any other services and replied: “I wouldn’t have thought so. One’s pregnant and the other has a husband.”
Robert Colover, defending, said Gough, a painter and decorator and tree feller, was the sole owner of the business for only a month.
He said he had suffered in the past year, waiting for the case to come to court.
He said Gough had work lined up in Bradford at the end of the month.
Judge John Plumstead said he was suspending a prison sentence because he had taken the view that the women involved had not been trafficked or compelled to work there.
He told Gough, who pleaded guilty on the day his trial was due to start: “You are very wise to plead guilty.
“It seems to me that any jury would have convicted you.
“It is a serious matter keeping a brothel – not least because of the effect on normal, ordinary, respectable people who find their neighbourhood changing. They are alarmed by men seeking sex coming to the area.
“It is a blight on respectable people.”
The judge said Gough was a greedy man who “had a shameless desire to make a living from a sordid trade”.
He passed a four-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered him to complete 100 hours unpaid work.
The £1,415 found on him was confiscated and he must also pay £1,500 prosecution costs within the next six months.