Man jailed 3 months for attempting to pay for sex with minor

Andy Kow Yong Wen was sentenced to three months' jail on April 10 for attempting to obtain commercial sex from a minor. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Looking for a sugar daddy, a 16-year-old girl offered sexual services on online classified advertisement network Locanto and a contractor offered her $500 in exchange for sexual intercourse.

The teenager did not agree to it as she was only willing to perform other acts such as oral sex.

But Andy Kow Yong Wen, 42, continued to make the offer despite knowing the girl's age, and she refused to give in to his request.

The Singaporean man was sentenced to three months' jail on Wednesday (April 10) for attempting to obtain commercial sex from a minor.

District Judge John Ng said: "I also understand from the DPP that this is the first case of a person being prosecuted for an attempt to commit the offence."

It is an offence in Singapore to obtain commercial sex from anyone below 18 years old. The girl cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her identity.

In his submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Raja Mohan said that the girl advertised her sexual services on Locanto between late July and early August 2017.

On Aug 1 that year, Kow messaged her on Locanto, stating that he wanted to engage her services and was willing to be her sugar daddy. They then started communicating on messaging app WeChat.

During their chats until Aug 13, 2017, the girl told Kow that she was 16 years old and sent the man her pictures when he asked for them.

The DPP said that Kow then asked the girl if she was willing to have sexual intercourse with him for $500 and she turned down his request.

Some time that month, Kow drove the girl to Alexandra Road where she was supposed to attend her tuition class.

Before she alighted at a basement carpark, Kow touched her private parts and gave her $50, which she accepted.

The DPP said: "Between Aug 1 and 13, 2017, the accused sent numerous messages to the victim requesting to have sexual intercourse with her for $500. This was despite knowing that she was just 16, and after she had expressly rejected his offers."

During the two-day trial, Kow, who was represented by lawyer Peter Ong, testified that the messages between him and the girl were "just a chit-chat". He had also said: "I can just chat whatever I want."

Kow's offence came to light when the girl's mother looked through the messages on her mobile phone. The woman alerted the police on Aug 25, 2017, and officers arrested Kow two days later.

DPP Raja had urged the court to sentence Kow to six months' jail, stressing that the girl was young and vulnerable.

Mr Ong, however, pleaded for his client to be given either a fine or a short jail term. The lawyer told Judge Ng that Kow had committed the offence due to a "momentary lapse of judgment".

Before handing down the sentence on Wednesday, Judge Ng said that Kow's sentence "cannot be a slap on the wrist". Instead, it has to send out a deterrent message to discourage others from committing a similar offence.

The judge added: "Regardless of whether these girls had actively attracted the attention of the men, the law is there to prohibit without exceptions such attempts and proposition."

Offenders convicted of obtaining commercial sex from a minor can be jailed for up to seven years and fined.

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