Qld prostitution ring accused in court

Robyn Wuth
·2-min read

A man accused of drugging and recruiting women for sexual servitude in Brisbane and tattooing ownership on their bodies remains behind bars, but his co-accused has been bailed.

Matthew James Markcrow, 35, and Crystal Marie Sawyer, 23, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday charged after a four-month investigation into the alleged Brisbane prostitution ring.

Markcrow faces 10 charges, including conducting a business involving servitude, conducting unlawful prostitution, possessing drugs and tainted property, and breaching privacy.

It will be alleged he was keeping several women aged between 17 and 24 in conditions of servitude of unlawful prostitution.

The prosecution will allege the women were given stupefying drugs, subject to controlled living, financial and work conditions, and have also been tattooed as being his property.

Images on Markcrow's social media show four images of "property of Matt M" topped with images of devil's pitchfork and an angel halo.

"If I had all the names it would look more like a scroll," Markcrow posted under the images.

Police also uncovered covert recordings of the females engaged in sexual acts with clients.

During a brief court appearance, Markcrow gestured with a heart and mouthed "I love you" to two women sitting in the public gallery.

It is unknown how the women are connected, with the pair demanding privacy as they left the Brisbane court.

Markcrow was remanded in custody on a return to prison warrant and will return to magistrates court on February 24.

Sawyer is charged with three offences, including conducting a business involving servitude.

Prosecutor Sergeant Mark Hughes said Sawyer claimed to be "like a mother" to the girls involved and exerted a "degree of control" as he opposed her bail application.

He said police feared Sawyer would take over the prostitution business's operation if released from custody.

However, magistrate Stephen Courtney said Sawyer was young and was granted bail on strict reporting conditions despite her previous prostitution-related convictions.

"The allegations against Markcrow have a particular sinister flavour, and perhaps more will be revealed as the investigation is completed. But, having said that, I need to be concerned with the charges currently against Ms Sawyer," Mr Courtney said.

"I am satisfied that risk can be significantly mitigated."

She was ordered not to contact any witnesses involved in the police case and return to court for mention on February 24.