“His belief was really conjecture or guesswork at best,” Judge See Kee Oon said today. “He was reckless.” The judge rejected Shaw’s request for a fine instead of a jail term, saying that there was a need to a deterrent message to curb demand for underage prostitutes.
Shaw, 41, is the second person to be sentenced for seeing the prostitute. A former primary school principal, one of another 50 men charged for the same crime, was sentenced to nine weeks’ jail in April by See.
The case is one of several high profile ones involving sex that prosecutors have brought this year in Singapore, including graft charges against a law professor who had previously been a judge and against the former head of the Asian country’s Civil Defence Force.
The girl wasn’t coerced into prostitution and had colluded with her pimp in an “act of deliberate deceit” to misrepresent that she was at least 18 at the time of Shaw’s offense, his lawyer Harpreet Singh said. She was actually about 17 years and 7 months, his lawyer said, adding that a jail sentence would be an “absurdly draconian result.”
The maximum penalty for paid sex in Singapore with someone under 18 is a seven-year jail term and an unspecified fine. Singh told Judge See that Shaw, who’s out on S$10,000 ($8,000) bail, intended to appeal the sentence. The lawyer declined to comment further to reporters after the hearing.
Prosecutors asked the judge to jail Shaw for three months to send an “unequivocal” deterrent message against crimes involving paid sex with minors.
The Shaw family business, co-founded by Shaw’s grandfather, includes a movie studio in Hong Kong, operating cinemas in Singapore and real estate development, including two office complexes in the city-state’s prime shopping belt district.
The criminal case is Public Prosecutor v Howard Shaw. DAC13759/2012. Subordinate Courts of Singapore.