Illegal brothel allegations being investigated in Shepparton

By Liz Mellino

Police and Greater Shepparton City Council are investigating allegations of illegal brothel activity near a Shepparton school .

The property in question is near Wilmot Rd Primary School and a spokesman for the city’s only licensed brothel is concerned illegal activity is occurring under the community’s nose.

Apollo 45 spokesman William Albon expressed concern that police and council were not taking action to prevent the alleged activity.

‘‘Shepparton has become a refuge for illegal brothels — the illegal operators come to Shepparton fairly confident that they will not be prosecuted,’’ Mr Albon claimed.

‘‘The day Victoria Police parade a person in front of a County Court judge charged with operating a brothel without the necessary licence, operating a brothel without the necessary planning permit and living on the earning of prostitution, will be welcomed indeed.’’

The News received a number of documents from Mr Albon this week addressing alleged illegal brothel activity at a property on Wilmot Rd.

Shepparton police Senior Sergeant Ross Brittain said police had been made aware of suspected illegal activity occurring in South Shepparton, but he would not disclose a specific address.

‘‘We have taken action in relation to that,’’ Sen Sgt Brittain said.

‘‘These pop up from time to time in various locations in and around the area and we deal with them as they arise.’’

Sen Sgt Brittain said police were in the process of investigating the claims and they would speak with people who attended and left the premises to gather information.

‘‘We will do our investigation into it; we will speak with a number of people concerned and work closely with our stakeholders, particularly Greater Shepparton City Council, to discourage these sorts of businesses from being part of our community,’’ he said.

Mr Albon showed The News a text message conversation with a woman asking him to attend a residential address in Wilmot Rd this week, along with a statutory declaration stating a sexual service was provided for money at this address.

While he noted police played a role in pursuing illegal operators in town, Mr Albon said he believed local government must take enforcement action against illegal brothel activity under the integrity of the Shepparton planning scheme.

‘‘My largest disappointment goes to the failure of local government to protect the integrity of their planning schemes — planning schemes are an integral part of our overall community and should be vital to our community’s wellbeing,’’ he said.

Mr Albon referred to the Planning and Environment Act, namely Section 130 where the authorised officers of the responsible authority may serve infringement notices on those breaching the planning scheme; Section 133 where an authorised officer of the responsible authority has power of entry; and Section 136 where if an authorised officer of the responsible authority requests police back-up then police must provide it.

Greater Shepparton City Council chief executive Peter Harriott said the council had received a query from concerned residents about the possibility of a brothel operating in Wilmot Rd.

He said council staff were working closely with police to investigate the matter and would take any appropriate action that was required.

‘‘We really appreciate their (the police’s) level of assistance, involvement and specialist skills in this regard ... they’ve been very responsive to date in checking the matter out with us, inspecting it and having discussions,’’ Mr Harriott said.

‘‘We’ll respond appropriately to anyone who makes contact to us in relation to this matter.’’

Wilmot Rd Primary School was offered the opportunity to comment on the matter, but declined to do so.