A part-time pimp has been jailed after being snared by an undercover police investigation into his seedy escort agency.
A detective posed as a lonely businessman staying in a Barnstaple hotel to trap Peter Moule as he offered a vulnerable woman for sex for £100 an hour.
Moule set up an escort agency named Jodie’s and advertised it in the local media but his scheme was spotted by police who feared one or more women were being exploited.
An officer twice called the agency and each time Moule answered the phone and made the arrangements for a meeting, quoting prices of £60 for 30 minutes or £100 an hour.
The policeman posed as a visitor on a business trip from Cornwall staying at the Barnstaple Travelodge and Moule delivered a woman named Sky to his room.
The officer did not take up the offer or paying for sex but instead engaged the woman in conversation and learned she was a heroin addict who was paying half her earnings to Moule.
Moule, 63, of Rackfield Court, Barnstaple, admitted controlling a prostitute and was jailed for eight months by Judge Phillip Wassall.
He told him: "You knew a girl called Sky, although I doubt that was her real name, who was an addict who had been dependent on heroin for five years.
“It is said you became smitten with her but that sits very uneasily with what actually happened because you set up an escort agency.
“The police saw your advertisement and you agreed to provide her services to an undercover officer. She told that officer you would take half of what she received.
“It is accepted she had been acting as a prostitute before and for others but you agreed to help and set up the agency and invested money in advertising and in petrol to drive her around.
“You say you did not make any money out of it but it was your intention to do so. You set up this agency hoping to profit from her.
“You encouraged her to sell her body to other men. You expanded her business rather than seeking ways to get her off the streets.
“The public interest requires people who live off the earnings of prostitution or who control prostitutes to receive an immediate sentence. The offence is so serious it merits immediate custody.”
Janice Eagles, for the prosecution, said police mounted an operation in April and May which resulted in a meeting between an under cover officer and Sky in the Travelodge.
She said: "The police acted because of concerns that vulnerable women were being exploited. The first meeting did not take place but on the second occasion the officer claimed to be a businessman from Cornwall.
“Moule delivered the woman who used the name Sky to the hotel and in conversation she said she paid him half of what she was paid.
“He was interviewed and said he was helping a friend out and there had been no element of coercion.”
Nigel Wraith, for the defence, said the woman had been involved in prostitution before Moule set up the agency so there was no suggestion he had corrupted or forced her to take part.
He said his client has health problems and was keen to attend courses in the community to address his offending.