Brothel keeper may have to return £6m

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 11, 2010

A man who was jailed for running a Manchester brothel chain is to re-appear in court to discover whether he has to pay back assets made from the £6m business.

Ian Barnett, now living in St Annes Road, Prestwich, after serving half his three-year sentence, repeatedly claimed at his trial in 2008 that the police had given him permission to run prostitution in Manchester.

But he was convicted of a series of offences relating to brothel-keeping and prostitution.

Last week a judge at Manchester Crown Court decided that a police investigation, which estimated Mr Barnett's earnings from criminal activity at £5.7m, would lead to a court hearing on December 10. It will decide how much of the earnings will need to be paid back under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

At the hearing 59-year-old Mr Barnett, representing himself, told Judge David Hernandez that he had only pleaded guilty to his offences in 2008 because he was "ill on the day".

He questioned the judge in court, saying: "You have been a judge for what? A year?", a line of argument which the judge advised him would not assist him with the court.

Mr Barnett also claimed he had only benefited by £21,000 from the brothel business, money which was originally seized by police.

But the court heard how Mr Barnett had lived in a £500,000 house in Higher Broughton, with his wife Michelle. He drove a Rolls Royce while she ran an X-type Jaguar - the cars had a combined value of £60,000.

In 2008 the prosecution estimated that his four brothels, in Altrincham, Cheetham Hill, Levenshulme and Shudehill, brought in £2.5m over a two-and-a-half-year period.

But financial investigators at Greater Manchester Police, who calculated Mr Barnett's earnings through documents they found which recorded each prostitution job, say the dealings can be traced back six years.

Last updated: 9:59am, November 12 2010