Pimp in online vice ring case loses appeal

The man behind the online vice ring case, Tang Boon Thiew, lost his appeal against his sentence in the High Court on Friday.

The 39-year-old was convicted early this year of 20 vice-related charges and was given 58 months' jail and fined $90,000 or 45 weeks' jail. He is serving sentence and has not paid the fines.

Tang, who had 82 other charges taken into consideration, had recruited 19 escorts, 17 of whom provided sexual services over a span of about two years. One was a 17-year-old who provided paid sex to 51 men. To date, 20 men have been convicted and sentenced to jail but three are appealing against their sentences.

The escort was described as an 18-year-old polytechnic student on the website.

Arguing that the sentence was excessive, defence counsel Shashi Nathan said the scale of Tang's operation was not as large as the trial judge had made it out to be.

His client, he said, had not pocketed $185,000 from providing online vice services but $145,000.

He said if the fines were converted to default sentences, Tang would get a sentence just short of six years, which was excessive compared to other cases.

While he conceded that the escort agency business was motivated by greed, the counsel argued this was not a factor that warranted substantial fines on top of the long jail term.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mark Tay said unlike the other vice case cited by the counsel, Tang made use of the Internet which provided him with a cloak of anonymity in the manner he operated.

The trial judge had noted a number of aggravating factors in this case, such as exploitation of the Internet in committing the offences, and Tang's active and deliberate deception in relation to the minor's age.