A WOMAN who ran a Gwent 'safe house' for transvestites was jailed for two years yesterday for her part in a £600,000 sting.

Olwen Brock, 43, of Chepstow, and transvestite Kevin Stewart, 35, of Gateshead, were sentenced at Bristol crown court yesterday.

Married man Stewart, formerly of Backwell, Somerset, used his position as a marketing manager at Somerfield to draw out cheques of up to £25,000, the court heard. And the 6ft 5in Stewart paid the money into company bank accounts set up by close friend Brock, who then paid it back to him.

She spent her share of the cash on a new Mercedes convertible and holidays in the US, and believed Stewart was planning to spend £45,000 on a sex-change operation in Belgium.

The pair squandered some of the money Stewart embezzled on extravagant trips to London to attend fetish parties.

The partners in crime met when Stewart answered an advert for Brock's Wales business which offered help and support to transsexuals.

Brock received cash payments for allowing men to dress as women and wear make-up in the comfort of her home.

They became close friends and Stewart started defrauding his employers after hearing of Brock's financial difficulties.

She claimed that she thought the money, some of which was used to pay her son's school fees, came from legitimate business transactions.

Brock denied six charges of obtaining money by deception and was convicted of five of the charges.

Judge Peter Thomas told her: "There must be a prison sentence. I sentence you to two years and were it not for your son it would be much longer."

Stewart admitted nine charges of obtaining money by deception and asked for a further 75 offences to be considered.

The court had heard that he felt he was a woman trapped in a man's body and Julian Lambert, defending, said: "To be born with the wrong genitals must be a living nightmare. "He will have to go to a male prison and his suffering there cannot be overemphasised."

But Judge Thomas said: "I have noted your background and the difficulties you will face in prison life. With this in mind I sentence you to three years."

*PICTURED: Olwen Brock (left) and Kevin Stewart.