All of about 40 men who had gone before the courts for having paid sex with a minor in a high-profile online vice ring case had been found guilty.
But Mr Timothy Gan Wee Jin, 40, a former investment adviser with DBS, became the first in this case to be cleared by a district court yesterday.
Mr Gan, now unemployed, was accused of paying $650 for the sexual services of a female under 18 years old at Strand Hotel in Bencoolen Street, between 6.30pm and 8.40pm on Dec 8, 2010.
He had maintained throughout the eight-day trial that he did not have sex with the 17-year-old social escort working for Tang Boon Thiew, operator of an online vice ring that first made the news in 2012. Tang, 41, who has been dealt with, responded to Mr Gan's message on Dec 7 that year, confirming the latter's booking for the minor's services the next day.
The crucial question was whether the minor had sex with Mr Gan at the time.
The prosecution's case rested solely on the testimony of the minor - specifically that she did not have sex with six men on six occasions during the time she was working for the pimp, and that Mr Gan was not one of these men.
Explaining her decision, District Judge May Mesenas said the teen did not recognise Mr Gan as one of the clients she had sex with nor remember the encounter.
The defence, represented by Mr Thong Chee Kun and Ms Ho Lifen, was one of denial. This was consistent with the statement Mr Gan gave to the police.
Having examined the evidence, the judge said the number of occasions on which the minor did not have sex was not clear now. Was it on five, six or seven occasions, she asked. She found that the minor had given two different versions on the number of occasions that she did not have sex.
While she accepts that there were serious gaps in Mr Gan's case, she said the prosecution still had the duty to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Gaps in the defence's case "did not ameliorate the deficiencies in the prosecution's case", she said.
Mr Gan was one of 51 men charged with having commercial sex with the same girl. At least 41 have been convicted, with all except one jailed for between eight weeks and six months.
Mr Gan said he was thankful to his parents as well as friends and former colleagues who believed in his innocence. "I am also grateful to my ex-employers for their understanding," he said.
This article was first published on September 10, 2014.
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