Mark McCormick: operated six brothels at any given time

A 26-year-old man who ran a network of brothels in Dublin earning hundreds of thousands of euro is to be probed by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab).

Mark McCormick, from Ballybeg Park in Newcastle, Co Down, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on Friday.

The judge suspended the last 14 months of the sentence, which means McCormick will spend at least a year in jail.

His father is Peter McCormick, a former RUC reservist who received a two-year suspended sentence for organising prostitution in Dublin in 2003. He has since relocated to Britain and is understood to be still involved in prostitution and to have worked closely with his son.

Mark McCormick was operating six brothels at any given time in Ireland and had up to 20 women working for him, according to a senior source.

Detectives from Operation Quest, the dedicated garda unit for tackling prostitution, began probing McCormick's activities in 2005 but there were several delays in bringing his case before the court.

"He was a serious player. He wasn't a violent criminal the same way that TJ Carroll was; he wasn't involved in trafficking or abusing the women.

"But he was nonetheless heavily involved and was making serious profits for a sustained period," said a source.

Gardaí have had a number of successes recently targeting pimps and brothel keepers.

On Wednesday, Tony Linnane (54), from Scartbarry, Watergrasshill, Co Cork, was jailed for 15 months after pleading guilty to brothel-keeping and organising prostitution in Cork city.

He has also made a settlement of €1m with Cab. It emerged that Linnane hid cameras in sockets in the rooms in the brothels in order to stream images to his home. Detectives also found still shots of clients with some of the prostitutes.

In April, a Romanian brothel keeper was given a week to leave Ireland in lieu of three years in jail. Mihai Selaru was fined €1,000 and had his sentence suspended on condition he left Ireland and did not return for 10 years.

One of the prostitutes working for him gave evidence that Selaru took all her earnings and at one point threatened to starve her if she didn't get more clients. She also said she was coerced into prostitution.

Since Ireland's most significant pimp Thomas 'TJ' Carroll (48) was recently imprisoned in Wales for running a network of brothels – and now that McCormick has also been jailed – detectives say no new "Mr Big" has emerged.

"We will be watching to see who tries to take over. Operation Quest works closely with the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation targeting prostitution rackets," added the source.