SINGAPORE — A man who posed as a social escort agent to cheat women into having sex with him had his jail term more than doubled after his appeal for a lower sentence was dismissed by the Chief Justice on Wednesday (1 December).
This despite the fact that the prosecution did not appeal for a higher sentence for the 40-year-old.
In increasing De Beers Wong Tian Jun's sentence from three-and-a-half-years to eight years and five months, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that the Wong's behaviour placed him in the "highest ranges" of harm and culpability.
Wong had procured unprotected penetrative sex with multiple victims, brazenly exploiting them and was "utterly bereft of remorse", ruled CJ Menon. He had also displayed significant premeditation, given the web of lies in which he had "ensnared" his victims.
The CJ said that Wong's offence of cheating to procure sex was "exceptionally serious" and could have in fact been prosecuted as rape, given the "grievous bodily intrusion" experienced by the victims.
Wong looked stony-faced in the dock as CJ Menon read out his brief grounds of decision. He asked to defer the start of his sentence to January next year to attend medical appointments for a stroke he suffered earlier this year.
Cheated at least 11 women
Wong, then an insurance agent, had cheated at least 11 women, aged 18 to 24, between April 2015 and January 2016 by representing himself as an agent for wealthy clients when the potential sugar babies contacted him through his advertisement.
He told the women that they had to engage in sexual activity with him or provide him with sexually explicit photographs or videos of themselves in order to evaluate their suitability for his clients.
He offered them $8,000 to $24,000 a month. In fact, he did not have any clients.
Wong pleaded guilty to seven charges of cheating, two charges of criminal intimidation and one charge under the Films Act for making an obscene film, and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ jail and a $20,000 fine on 20 April by a district court.
Wong, represented by lawyers Jonathan Wong and Riko Isaac Chua, then sought to argue for a lower sentence before CJ Menon on 24 September this year. Chua had submitted a psychiatric report on Wong's state of mind at the time of the offences. However Wong was only assessed last year, more than four years after he committed the offences.
During his appeal hearing, a tearful Wong addressed CJ Menon, claiming that he realised the amount of stress and depression he was going through after visiting his psychiatrist.
"It was only after visiting the doctor that I realised why I made such an unsound decision then. Because...I’ve always been trying to do good and it was only after speaking to counsellor did I realise why I made such a wrong bad decision at that time," he said.
CJ rejects psychiatric report
On Wednesday, CJ Menon rejected Wong's psychiatric report, in which a private psychiatrist stated that Wong had been suffering from adjustment disorder at the time of the offences.
CJ Menon said the report was "of no assistance whatsoever to the court", as the psychiatrist had acknowledged that the report was predicated entirely on the truthfulness of the information Wong himself provided.
The psychiatrist was not provided with independent information on which he could rely to prepare his report. As a result, the report was "ridden with falsehoods". The CJ stressed that as an experienced expert who frequently gave expert evidence, the psychiatrist should have been aware of the statement of facts but did not appear to inquire into it.
The judge added, "The conduct of the defence counsel in not placing the statement of facts before (the psychiatrist) is regrettable."
Furthermore, the psychiatrist failed to explain how he could retrospectively determine how Wong had adjustment disorder more than four years after the offences.
As such, no weight should be placed on the report, ruled the judge.
"If anything, (the) psychiatric report was damaging to (Wong's) case because it illustrated (his) casual disregard for the truth and willingness to flagrantly lie about what had happened even several years after the offences. This speaks volumes as to (Wong's) alleged remorse."
Turning to the mitigating factors, CJ Menon said that Wong's clean record was of little assistance given the egregiousness of his offences. The fact that Wong pleaded guilty was of little mitigating value when his "proverbial game is up", added the judge.
The judge enhanced the sentence given for Wong's cheating charges but gave a year's "discount" for Wong's plea of guilt, which saved the victims from having to re-live their horrific experience by testifying in court.
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