A web designer who provided online advertising services to prostitutes was jailed for four weeks and fined $15,000 yesterday after the High Court allowed the prosecution's appeal against his original sentence of a $40,000 fine.
Quek Chin Choon, 56, had also appealed against his conviction on five charges of living on the earnings of prostitution, but failed.
The prosecution alleged that Quek, who frequented prostitutes and reviewed their services online, came up with a plan to make money from them.
He took sexually provocative photographs of them, gave them easy-to-remember monikers such as Apple and Nikki, and created a website on which he uploaded their photos and advertised their services and contact details.
After uploading their photos, he would post a thread to promote the site on a well-known adult Internet forum to attract those trawling for sexual services.
During Quek's trial, the five Chinese prostitutes testified that they each paid him between $500 and $1,500 for his Web services. Some said he engaged in sexual acts with them. The women testified that the money they paid Quek came from their earnings as prostitutes.
But Quek maintained he was just an avid photographer who happened to have prostitutes among his clientele. He said he did not know the money they paid him came from prostitution and that he was not guilty of living on the earnings of prostitution, an offence meant only to target pimps.
In February, Quek was convicted and, a month later, fined $8,000 per charge, making a total of $40,000. He appealed against his conviction while the prosecution appealed for him to be jailed.
His lawyer Peter Ong argued there was no difference between what Quek had done and a doctor providing medical treatment to prostitutes. Quek, who is married with a young daughter, claimed he played no role in their business apart from taking their photos and creating the ads. But the prosecution argued he played a pivotal role by promoting them and even advising them on the range of services they should provide.
Yesterday, Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon agreed his original sentence was "manifestly inadequate". Quek was jailed two weeks on each of five charges, but three of the sentences will run concurrently. He was also fined $3,000 for each charge. Written reasons will be issued later.
This article was first published on December 20, 2014.
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