Underage sex case: Judge throws out ex-DPP's appeal

Underage sex case: Judge throws out ex-DPP's appeal

The appeal by a former deputy public prosecutor against his conviction for engaging in commercial sex with a minor was dismissed in the High Court on Friday.

Spencer Gwee Hak Theng, 60, was found guilty and sentenced to four months in jail by a district court in July for paying a 16-year-old Vietnamese prostitute $300 for sex at a hotel in Geylang.

In his judgment, Justice Choo Han Teck said: "The correct approach to take in this case is not to focus on the minutiae of what more the investigators and prosecution could and/or ought to have done."

Gwee intends to take his case to the Court of Appeal, said his lawyer Chelva Retnam Rajah, on the basis of the weight attached to evidence in cases where the age is a "critical element". The "best evidence" was not produced in Gwee's case, he added.

The lawyer had argued that the prosecution's reliance on the teenager's passport for her date of birth constituted "third-tier evidence". This is opposed to "first-tier evidence" such as her birth certificate or her mother's testimony. Her identity card would be "second-tier evidence".

Justice Choo said: "Something that is 'third tier' based on the appellant's classification may yet suffice to prove a fact beyond a reasonable doubt."

Currently out on $20,000 bail, Gwee has denied having sex with the teenager on July 19, 2011.

While an identification parade was not held during investigations, the judge noted that the teenager was arrested within a month of her arrival here for allegedly engaging in commercial sex. As a result, she would likely still remember Gwee.

The judge pointed out that she had singled out Gwee's phone number to the authorities, and identified him in court as a client, but added: "It was perhaps unfortunate that the hotel's CCTV footage from July 19, 2011 could not be obtained, as that may have been highly probative evidence."

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