Mark James Markcrow, Crystal Marie Sawyer charged with keeping sex slaves in Qld

A man who allegedly kept multiple women as sex slaves in Queensland shared photos on social media of tattoos which branded them as his property.

Matthew James Markcrow, 35, and his girlfriend Crystal Marie Sawyer, 23, appeared in Brisbane Arrests Court on Friday after police allegedly uncovered evidence to support “sexual servitude and organised prostitution” during raids at Queensland properties this week.

Mr Markcrow is facing 10 charges, including conducting unlawful prostitution, making recordings in breach of privacy and three counts of contravening an order about electronic information.

He is also facing a Commonwealth charge of conducting a business involving sexual servitude of a girl under 18 between March 2019 and August 2019.

His partner, Ms Sawyer, 23, has been charged with two counts of contravening an order about electronic information and one count of conducting unlawful prostitution.

Police allege a number of women, aged between 17 and 24, were given stupefying drugs, branded with tattoos and subjected to sexual servitude.

It is also alleged the women were subjected to controlled living, financial and work conditions.

On Facebook Mr Markcrow has posted photos of tattoos which appear to be inked on different women, that read “Property of Matt M”.

In the comments under his photo he allegedly says that he is their “boyfriends in the future” and if he “had all the names it would look more like a scroll.”

Mr Markcrow and Ms Sawyer were arrested after police carried out raids at properties in Mount Gravatt East and South Brisbane on Thursday.

Drugs and recordings of sexual acts were allegedly uncovered by officers.

While Mr Markcrow has been remanded in custody, Ms Sawyer was granted bail despite submissions from police that she “exerted control” over the women and concerns she may run the business in her boyfriend’s absence.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Mark Hughes told the court Ms Sawyer was present with the women at the address during one of the police searches.

“During the course of the search warrant Sawyer stated she was ‘like a mother’ to the other girls,” Sgt Hughes said.

“Police observed other girls followed Sawyer’s leadership during the search … she demonstrated a degree of control over the other girls.”

The court heard that Ms Sawyer refused to give police the passcode to a phone and laptop seized by police.

Sgt Hughes told the court Ms Sawyer and Mr Markcrow were in a relationship and she had told him she would “take care of everything” when she saw him in the watch house.

But defence lawyer Lily Berkeley said there was no concrete evidence that Ms Sawyer had been involved in the business and the charges were brought “somewhat prematurely”.

She said her client could abide by strict bail conditions, including a no-contact order with any witnesses.

Magistrate Stephen Courtney said the charges against Mr Mackrow had a “particularly sinister flavour” but he needed to focus Ms Sawyer’s charges and what was before the court.

He granted her bail, with conditions not to contact the witnesses and to report to police twice a week.

Detective Inspector Juliet Hancock said the Prostitution Enforcement Taskforce had received a tip off late last year.

“This investigation is still ongoing,” she said.

Ms Hancock said police were investigating whether there were any more alleged victims and encouraged anyone with further information to come forward.

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

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