A FORMER prostitute tricked her Malaysian friend into coming to Perth then took away the woman’s passport and forced her to work in a brothel, a jury was told yesterday.
Lay Foon Khoo arranged for her partner to buy her childhood friend a flight to WA from South East Asia for what was allegedly supposed to be a 10-day holiday in December 2015.
When the woman arrived, she was driven to an East Perth brothel and was allegedly told she would have to work to pay back the $1900 she owed Ms Khoo for the travel arrangements.
Police claim the woman’s passport was confiscated and she was told she would not get it back until she cleared her debt. The woman spent a week at the brothel before going to police.
Ms Khoo went on trial in the District Court yesterday, accused of bringing her friend to Australia and deceiving the woman about her stay.
Prosecutor Lisa Boston said Ms Khoo trapped her friend into working as a prostitute so she could make money from her and took her passport so she could extort her.
She said Ms Khoo sent a text message to the brothel owner before her friend arrived in Perth telling the “lady boss” about her “young and very pretty” friend.
Ms Boston told the jury the victim was unfamiliar with Australian laws and thought she had no choice but to do as she was told.
It is alleged the woman escaped after she contacted a friend and asked about the rules in Australia. She left the brothel the next day and called police, who allegedly told her she was allowed to move around freely and organised for a taxi to take her to a station.
When she was interviewed by Australian Federal Police, Ms Khoo is alleged to have said the alleged victim asked to be taken to a brothel after she arrived in Perth. Police claim she said her friend had run away from Malaysia because she owed a lot of money to loan sharks and she wanted to help her.
Defence lawyer Paul Catalano said his client did not deny arranging the woman’s plane ticket, picking her up from the airport or driving her to the brothel so she could get work. But he said she disputed claims she confiscated her passport and deceived her about her stay.
Ms Khoo is alleged to have worked as a prostitute for three months after she moved to WA in 2015 but she stopped when she got a boyfriend. It is claimed that after she quit, she allegedly started helping women move to Australia so they could work at two Perth brothels.
Ms Boston told the jury the fact Ms Khoo may have referred some women to brothels was simply background information.