Man fined $10,000, spared jail due to heart condition

Man fined $10,000, spared jail due to heart condition
Two identically dressed men were spotted leaving the Subordinate Courts on 24 August 2012. One of them was 43-year-old Koh Hooi Hon.

A man charged two years ago in a high-profile online vice ring case involving a minor got away with a fine yesterday, on account of his serious heart condition.

Koh Hooi Hon, 46, was spared jail yesterday and fined $10,000 instead for commercial sex with an underage escort after District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim exercised "judicial mercy".

Koh, former deputy chief executive officer of broking firm Tradition, became the first offender in the case to escape with a fine, out of the 46 men dealt with so far. In all, 51 men were charged.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Ramesh Ethan Ananda said this case should not be used as a sentencing precedent in future cases.

Before Koh, two men were cleared of engaging in paid sex with the 17-year-old girl, and one was given probation. The rest were each jailed between eight and 16 weeks.

Koh, now unemployed, pleaded guilty to one charge of paying $650 for the sexual services of the minor at Sloane Court Hotel in Balmoral Road on Dec 9, 2010.

The escort was among several women working for pimp Tang Boon Thiew, 41, who started operating the online vice ring via a website in 2010. The minor started working for Tang in September that year.

After seeing her details on the website, Koh sent a text message to Tang on Dec 9, 2010, to ask if the minor was available. Tang replied that she was available at 7pm.

Koh, who was single then but has since married, did not verify her age before he had sex with her.

Urging the court to show judicial mercy, Koh's lawyer, Mr Anand Nalachandran, said his client's medical condition was quite dire and his life would be at risk if he were to go to jail.

He said since Koh's surgery for a major heart condition in January 2011, he has been ravaged by this life-threatening condition.

Koh could have been jailed for up to seven years and/or fined for engaging in commercial sex with a person under 18 years old.

This article was first published on Nov 4, 2014.
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