4 months' jail for having sex with teen prostitute

A 51-year-old business consultant was on Wednesday jailed for four months after having paid sex with an underage prostitute.

Edward Whistler Goh Ngian Meng kept his eyes closed, neck tilted slightly downwards, as District Judge Jasbendar Kaur handed down the punishment.

He is the 26th man to be sentenced in a series of cases involving the same 17-year-old prostitute, who was part of an online vice ring.

Goh, one of 51 men charged last year with having paid sex with the girl, is appealing against both conviction and sentence.

The judge noted it was clear the man was well-liked and respected by those who knew him, but said that a jail term was appropriate in view of "strong public policy" considerations.

Goh had a panic attack in the dock last month after being convicted on two counts of paying $450 for sexual services from the girl.

His first offence took place at Hotel 81 Bencoolen on Sept 29, 2010, and the second, at his former condominium in Telok Kurau less than a month later on Oct 24.

Deputy Public Prosecutor S. Sellakumaran on Wednesday asked that Goh be given a jail term of no less than five months, adding he had not tried to verify the girl's age.

But seeking a short custodial sentence and a fine, defence lawyer S. Balamurugan said Goh had no criminal tendencies and had treated the minor respectfully. Goh is the fourth to be sentenced after claiming trial, following 42-year-old Swiss banker Juerg Buergin, ex-navy engineer Kwa Wee Nam, 34, and Indonesian Reyner Desvando Suhartono, 29.

A fifth man, army officer Emlyn Thomas Thariyan, has been convicted but not yet sentenced.

Kwa and Suhartono received four months' jail, while Buergin, a former executive director with UBS, was understood to have left Singapore in August after completing a 19-week jail term for two charges.

All the 22 other men who have been sentenced had pleaded guilty.

The maximum penalty for the offence is a seven-year jail term and a fine.

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