Online vice ring: First two men to appeal against jail sentences fail in their bids

The first two men to appeal against their jail sentences for commercial sex with a minor, in a long-running online vice ring case, failed in their bids on Friday. Ex-portfolio manager Ng Guan Mean, 38, and former financial planner Kenny Sim Choon Wee
The first two men to appeal against their jail sentences for commercial sex with a minor, in a long-running online vice ring case, failed in their bids on Friday. Ex-portfolio manager Ng Guan Mean, 38, and former financial planner Kenny Sim Choon Wee (above), 40, were among 51 men charged last year with having commercial sex with the same underage escort. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

The first two men to appeal against their jail sentences for commercial sex with a minor, in a long-running online vice ring case, failed in their bids on Friday. Ex-portfolio manager Ng Guan Mean, 38, and former financial planner Kenny Sim Choon Wee, 40, were among 51 men charged last year with having commercial sex with the same underage escort.

Their punishments of nine and eight weeks in jail respectively were upheld by the High Court. Turning down the appeals, Justice Choo Han Teck said on Friday that three factors in favour of the men had elicited "some sympathy" from the court.

These included the girl being nearly of full age and the seriousness of the offence not having been made clear enough to both general public and the two men. Yet, "the warmth of sympathy" subsequently turned cold after the "many new offences" that followed, said the judge.

To date, 20 men have been sentenced to between eight and 19 weeks' jail for commercial sex with the minor. All pleaded guilty except Swiss national Juerg Buergin. The 41-year-old, a former bank executive director, lost his appeal and was understood to have left Singapore last month after completing his 19-week jail term. The escort's pimp, Tang Boon Thiew, was jailed four years and 10 months and fined $90,000 for 20 vice-related charges. The 39-year-old lost his appeal against his sentence in June.