A Singaporean man who had paid sex with an underage girl in the online vice ring case was brought before the court to have his case heard at Subordinate Court No. 10 before District Judge Lim Keng Yeow on Tuesday morning, 3 November, 2013.
The man, identified as 31-year-old Leu Xing-Long, is among the 51 men charged last year for having commercial sex with the same girl, who cannot be named under a court gag order.
The district court heard that Leu chanced upon a website on escorts built by Tang Boon Thiew, the pimp at the centre of Singapore’s most (in)famous online underage sex ring of the century. The minor was among the escorts working for Tang and was described as an 18-year-old second year polytechnic student online. After reading and reviewing her details, Leu contacted Tang via text messages to find out the girl’s availability.
Tang replied Leu’s text message to inform him about the girl’s availability. Tang arranged for an hour-and-a-half-long session for Leu to have sex with the girl on September 30, 2010 for S$450. It is clear that Leu had not met Tang. Both client and pimp communicated to each other through text messages.
The prosecution, led by Ethan Ramesh and Andy Dinesh, stated in the agreed statement of facts that Leu said he was not aware of the girl’s age and Tang did not furnish him with further details about the girl. Under Singapore law, it is an offence to have commercial sex with someone below 18, even if the minor gives her consent.
After preliminary hearings on discovery for documents, the trial progressed into the later part of the day, where it was revealed during cross examination of Tang by defence counsel Alfred Dodwell, that the minor was four months shy of her eighteenth birthday. Although Tang insisted he had no idea that he knew it was an offence for anyone less than 18 to be solicited for commercial sex, it was stated by the prosecution that he knew and there is sufficient evidence that he was well aware of the crime. Additionally, Tang had a practice of checking the girls’ identity cards.
Tang and the minor had an exchange of text messages where he instructed the minor not to bring her own identity card. The minor told him that she had brought her sister’s identity card. In the case of Leu, he messaged her to bring her older sister’s identity card and to be punctual when meeting clients, thereby suggesting that Tang is aware that the girl is a minor.
Tang also refuted initial statements he made in earlier court proceedings that he was informed by a client that the girl was four months shy from her eighteenth birthday. Needless to say, the client turned down the girl’s services.
Ever since that incident, which took place sometime in December 2010, Tang told the court that he does not encourage his escorts to show clients their identity card as it contains confidential information like their home address, identity number, postal code, etc.
So, what caused the pimp to slip up during Leu’s trial? Was it the fact that he is already behind bars and is truly repentant? Or he does not want to own up to his own doings in fear of having his case re-opened and reviewed? Whatever the case, Tang had committed an offence and is currently serving time in prison. He was convicted to 58 months imprisonment for crimes of prostitution and abetting 51 men in their crimes of soliciting a minor for commercial sex.
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