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Uber driver denies making £900,000 from Dartford brothel

A 43-year-old Uber driver earned up to £900,000 from running a brothel in Dartford, a court has heard.

Romanian Marion Nicolae had run the business from Downs Avenue, Dartford, between April 1, 2017, and September 19, 2018.

The Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel is now doubling up as a court
The Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel is now doubling up as a court

He pleaded guilty two years ago at Maidstone Crown Court to inciting prostitution for gain, running a brothel and money laundering.

A case management hearing today at the Nightingale Courthouse based at The Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel, heard how a proceeds of crime hearing was needed to determine how much money Nicolae had made from his crimes.

Prosecutor Tom Dunn told His Honour Judge Nelson that the total "benefit" of the crimes amounted to £900,000, and that Nicolae, from West Hendon in London, had £200,000 available to him.

Defence solicitor Siddick Gokhool said the figures suggested by the prosecution were wrong, with the benefit total actually £40,000, and that Nicolae had £34,000 available to him.

The proceeds of crime hearing had been delayed by a backlog of cases, and had threatened to overrun the two year deadline needed to make a confiscation order following conviction.

The judge granted an extension to the deadline and adjourned the case until September 15.

During the case at Maidstone Crown Court in 2019, Mr Dunn explained that the prostitution operation was "a commercial enterprise" where Nicolae helped sex workers set up their work, organised telephones and assisted in "very sophisticated online advertising".

But he added that there was no evidence the women had been coerced and they had had "sought him out".

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