Man cleared in online vice-ring case

All of about 40 men who have gone before the courts for having paid sex with a minor - in a high-profile online vice-ring case first reported in 2012 - have been found guilty so far.

But yesterday, Timothy Gan Wee Jin, 40, bucked the trend when he became the first to be cleared by a district court.

Mr Gan, then an investment adviser with DBS, was accused of paying $650 for the sexual services of a female under 18 years old at Strand Hotel, Bencoolen Street, between 6.32pm and 8.42pm on Dec 8, 2010.

Mr Gan, who is unemployed, had maintained throughout the eight-day trial that he did not have sex with the 17-year-old.

He had booked her through her pimp, Tang Boon Thiew, who responded to his private message via an online forum on Dec 7 to confirm his engagement.

The prosecution's case was that the minor recalled six occasions in which she did not have sex with clients, and given that Mr Gan was not one of them, he must have had sex with her.

But the defence, led by Thong Chee Kun, submitted that all evidence showed that the minor was unsure about the six occasions.

There was also no corroborative evidence on the six occasions. The minor also could not remember the exact number of times where no sex took place.

She had testified during the trial that she could not recognise Mr Gan, one of 51 men charged with having sex with the teen.

District Judge May Mesenas said there was no direct evidence that the minor had sexual intercourse with Mr Gan, whose defence was one of denial.

She said the number of occasions the minor did not have sex was not clear.

She found that the minor had given two different versions on the number of occasions that she did not have sex with her clients, which leads one to question the reliability of the evidence.

Judge Mesenas said she did not think it was safe to convict Mr Gan based on the minor's evidence.

She acquitted him, saying the prosecution had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

The maximum penalty for the commercial sex offence is seven years' jail and a fine.

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