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Present: Schneider A.J.
SILVA v. SUPPU.223—M. 0. Colombo, 732.
Brothel—Ordinance No. 5 of 1889.
A brothel is a boose ran by s men usually called a “ brothel keeper, 1to which men resorted for purposes of prostitution with women who wereto be found in the house.
* 'HE facts are set out in the judgment.
A. St. V. Jayawardene, for accused, appellant.
Grenier, C.C., for respondent.
May 21, 1919. Schneider A.J.—
In his judgment the Magistrate says he has no doubt whateverof the facts deposed to by the witnesses for the prosecution. I seeno reason for not accepting the findings of the Magistrate on thefacts. The facts proved were as follows.
Tbe accused-appellant is the lessee of the premises in question,No. 108, Chekku'Street, and lives there. The premises consist oftwelve small rooms partitioned by walls or planks. In consequenceof information received, a police constable was set to watch thepremises. He saw every night, from 6 to 11 p.m., Sinhalese, Tamils,and Moormen going into the house and coming out after an interval,and the accused standing at the entrance speaking to those whoentered, from whom he received money. This constable says thathe knew four of the women who were found in the house as com-mon prostitutes. Upon this constable reporting what he saw, anInspector of Police with some policemen raided the house one dayat about 10 p.m. They found some men and eight women. Twoof these men who were found in two of the rooms in company withtwo of the women admitted that they had come there for purposesof prostitution, and that the accused had received money fromthem. At the trial they gave evidence to this effect. The otherwomen were in other parts of the house talking to other men.
At the trial some men gave evidence to the effect that they keptsome of the women found in the house as their mistresses. Thesemen were mere “ pimps, ” as the Magistrate concludes. In only afew of the rooms were there any signs of occupation, such as potsand pans for cooking; the rest of the rooms were quite bare, as ifmeant to be occupied for immoral purposes.
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The accused was charged and convicted under section 1 (1) of theOrdinance No. 5 of 1889, which makes it an offence for any personto “ keep or manage or act or assist in the management of a brothel.
On appeal it was submitted that the conviction was bad for tworeasons. First, because the evidence failed to establish that theplace was a “ brothel ” within the meaning of the Ordinance, a“ brothel ” being a place resorted to by persons of both sexes for thepurpose of prostitution. ” In support of this proposition, Singletonv. Ellison 1 and Pieris v. Fernando,* and the words “ or for the purposeof habitual prostitution ” in sub-section (2) of section 1 of Ordinance .No, 5 of 1889 were cited. In the view I take of the facts in the case,this point does not actually arise. I hold that the evidence provesthat the house in question was run by the accused, so that womenwho were prostitutes had access to it for the purpose of prostitution,and men visited it, paying the accused a consideration, and wereallowed access to the women for purposes of prostitution.
This view of' the facts* satisfies the acceptation of the term“ brothel ” according' to the English law. But if it were reallynecessary to define a brothel for the purposes of our own law, Ishould feel inclined to give that term a meaning consistent withlocal ideas and conditions. Here we have no immoral womenwalking the stree'ts picking up men and resorting to some house forthe ’ purpose of prostitution. I have always understood the com-monly accepted meaning of “ brothel ” locally to be a house run bya man usually called a “ brothel keeper, ” to which men resorted forpurposes of prostitution with women who were to be found in thehouse. I would hold that it is this meaning which our Legislaturemeant the word “ brothel ” to have in local Ordinances, despitethe fact that the language of our Ordinances appears to have beenborrowed from the English Criminal Law Amendment Act, and thewords in sub-section (2) would appear to draw a distinction betweena “ brothel ” and a place resorted to “ for the purpose of habitualprostitution. ”
The second reason was said to be that the women were tenantsof the rooms, and even granting that they admitted men for thepurpose of prostitution, the .whole house or any one of the roomswould not be a brothel within the meaning of the law. In supportof this argument Regina v. Stannard3 was cited. Here, again,the argument fails on the facts as I accept them. The women werenot, in fact, tenants. But even granting them to be tenants, theaccused is proved to be residing in the premises, and to have controlover those seeking admission so as to be able to levy a charge for suchadmission. This fact distinguishes the present from the case cited.
I therefore dismiss the appeal.
i (1895) 1 Q. B. D. 607.3 (1895) 1 N. L. R. 212.
* (1863) 9 L. T. R. (N.-S.) 428 ; (1864) L. T. R. Mag. Cases 63.
SILVA v. SUPPU