Co Down man Derek Brown, 60, 'pimped out heroin addicts' court told

The high court in Belfast
The High Court heard Derek Brown exploited women over a three-year period and referred to them as “tramps”

A 60-year-old Co Down man allegedly pimped out vulnerable heroin addicts and took a cut of their earnings, the High Court heard.

Prosecutors claimed Derek Brown exploited women over a three-year period and referred to them as “tramps”.

The accused has denied any wrongdoing, insisting instead that he was a father figure to them.

Details emerged as he failed in a bid to be released on bail.

Brown, of West Street in Newtownards, faces charges of human trafficking, controlling prostitution for gain, sexual assault and paying for sexual services.

The alleged offences took place over a period between January 2020 and January 2023 and relate to two women.

One complainant told police that Brown met and paid her for sex while she was addicted to substances and living in a hostel.

“She said he also arranged appointments for her and took a cut of her money,” a Crown lawyer submitted.

A second woman has made similar allegations against the accused.

Opposing his application for bail, the barrister claimed Brown may have used a car obtained through a disability allowance scheme as part of the offending.

When the vehicle was checked its mileage was said to have been nearly 10 times higher than expected.

Counsel also argued that Brown has browsed websites offering sexual services in the Belfast area, offering an explanation that he did so “just to see who was around”.

During interviews he branded the complainants as liars.

“He said he looked after them like daughters, he was a father figure to them,” the prosecutor said.

But referring to another part of the interviews, she contended: “He laughed at them and called the victims tramps.”

The lawyer added: “The spectre of heroin, and the control of heroin addicts hangs over this entire case.

“It is of the utmost concern that he would pose a risk to witnesses and other such vulnerable young women.”

Adrian Higgins, defending, described the charges as “unpleasant, distasteful and sordid”.

However, he stressed Brown must still be presumed innocent.

Mr Higgins argued that the accused should now be released in order to drive a relative to their new place of work.

Dismissing the application, however, Mr Justice Humphreys pointed to the availability of bus services for the necessary travel arrangements.

He said: “I’m entirely unsatisfied that this amounts to a change of circumstances, it says nothing about the risk to victims in this case.”

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