A FORMER PSNI officer has pleaded guilty to helping to run a Chinese prostitution ring in Northern Ireland.

Co Down man Simon Dempsey admitted two charges of aiding and abetting the control of prostitutes for gain in 2008 and 2009. He also admitted entering into an arrangement with another accused, Rong Chen, to control criminal property by lodging monies on her behalf.

At a previous hearing, it emerged that Dempsey, of Newtownards, worked in Iraq for a Dubai-based security firm after quitting the force in 2004.

Yesterday, a Chinese man was cleared of helping to run the prostitution ring in which girls were trafficked to Northern Ireland with the lure and promise of legitimate jobs.

The Belfast Crown Court jury of nine women and three men were directed by Mr Justice Stephens to acquit Fai Chan, of Belfast, after the prosecution offered no evidence in his case.

It was only yesterday, following Chan”s acquittal, that the guilty pleas of Dempsey last week could be mentioned, as reporting restrictions were lifted.

Chan, who had denied aiding and abetting the control of prostitutes for gain on separate occasions between January 2008 and May 2009, was one of four originally accused.

On Monday Chen, with an address in Kidderminster, England, pleaded guilty to controlling the activities of prostitutes for gain, trafficking people within the UK, and to entering into an arrangement with Dempsey. She had faced six other charges arising out of the operation of the prostitution ring, but the court was told the prosecution did not intend to proceed with them and they should remain ‘on the books”.

A fourth accused, Jason Owen Hinton, with the same Kidderminister address as Chen, also pleaded guilty to charges of aiding and abetting. He too, like Chen and Dempsey, has been released on continuing bail.

The charges arise out of a PSNI -led, UK-wide investigation into a Chinese prostitution ring, which resulted in numerous raids in May 2009 on properties in both Londonderry and Belfast.

Although no details of the case have been given to the court, at a previous High Court hearing it was claimed that following the raids six prostitutes, all believed to be Chinese women, were rescued.