Police seize $10,000 cash in prostitution bust
TWO Malaysian women who came to Australia for a better life were sprung offering sex for money by undercover police officers who seized more than $10,000 from them.
Habib Khalil Mohaideen, 26, and Kumarasamy Govindaraju, 25, were caught engaging in prostitution together in the same room at the Summit Motel on March 28.
The court heard police found a total of $10,260 and two mobile phones.
Mohaideen's defence lawyer Sarah Belford told the court that her client wasn't allowed to work or study since her arrival in Australia in September 2019, because of her Bridging Visa.
"She's supported wholly by a friend at this time until the status of her visa is finalised … this is an act of desperation by someone who is not able to work, has no other means of making money," she said.
Ms Belford said COVID-19 had kept Mohaideen on that type of visa and delayed a transfer to another.
Govindaraju's defence lawyer Leaha Hallam said that her client was a trans-woman and had had gender-reassignment surgery, which drove her to leave Muslim-majority Malaysia in fear of persecution.
"She has had no work opportunities in that country and has chosen Australia as it provides hope for a better life for her," she said.
Ms Hallam said that Govindaraju was surviving on dwindling savings as well as supporting her friends who also could not work because of their visas.
Both Mohaideen and Govindaraju pleaded guilty to one charge each of knowingly participate in the provision of prostitution and possess tainted property when they faced the Townsville Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Magistrate Viviana Keegan said that she took into account the "unusual circumstance" both the women were placed in.
"The offending was driven by desperation because you have no means of earning an income and no government support," she said.
Both women were released on a $300 recognisance order for three months.
Originally published as Police seize $10,000 cash in prostitution bust