Customers suspected in attack on madam

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 1995, 12:00am

KINKY customers who used the services of Wan Chai escort agency Europea are to be investigated by detectives seeking a motive for a violent attack on the agency's boss.

The latest twist in the high-profile attack comes after police sources revealed owner Ms Roberta Hilburn 'may not be telling all she knows'. Investigators said they believed at least three Europea customers may have held a grudge against Ms Hilburn, who was beaten unconscious and stabbed after being featured in a leading Chinese-language magazine. The magazine cover depicted her covered by just a sheet, straddling one of her customers.

Ms Hilburn has told the Sunday Morning Post her escort business was going 'from strength to strength' despite controversy surrounding her attack and the subsequent leaking of her client lists. Staff at Europea said American Ms Hilburn may have been beaten up by triads who spotted the magazine article detailing her earnings from wealthy clients.

But detectives have now turned their attention to customers of the agency, who include businessmen, government officials and members of the judiciary. A 10-week investigation into the possibility of triad involvement in the attack has deemed the previous theory 'highly unlikely.' 'We have not completely ruled out a triad attack but it is looking highly unlikely,' a Wan Chai police source said. He added that 'three or four' customers were now under suspicion following an in-depth interview with Ms Hilburn last week.

'Officers have spoken at length with Ms Hilburn who has drawn up a list of possible suspects who may have been involved in the attack,' said the source.

'All the suspects are customers who, for one reason or another, may have had a grudge against her or the agency. We hope to interview these people in the near future.

Police sources revealed recently that Ms Hilburn would face more lengthy questioning after 10 weeks of investigations failed to provide police with a motive for her attack.

Ms Hilburn built Europea into one of Hong Kong's busiest escort agencies, but police believe she may also have built up a large number of enemies. She made thousands of dollars, boasting she could make up to $40,000 per customer by allowing clients to physically abuse her.

But her dream business turned into a nightmare after she appeared in the Chinese-language magazine. She was attacked in the early hours of October 21, shortly after the magazine was published, and was discovered by police lying in her bloodstained bed.

Her employees fled the business as Ms Hilburn lay in hospital. One, a married senior police officer, is still under investigation. Ms Hilburn has repeatedly maintained that her staff had no idea one of their co-workers was a police inspector.

Police are forbidden to moonlight and the inspector faces disciplinary action if found to be in breach of his contract. The inspector refused to comment on the case. 'I am still on sick leave,' he told the Sunday Morning Post last week.

A source close to the officer said the investigation into the officer's Europea sideline was continuing.

'He hasn't been seen around the office for six weeks; these things can take a long time before any decision is made,' the source said.

Europea is continuing to operate as an escort agency despite police fears such agencies are a front for prostitution.




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