'I really feel bad and guilty': Man who lured 11 women into sex acts appeals to judge for less jail time
SINGAPORE: A man who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years' jail and a S$20,000 fine for posing as an agent for wealthy "sugar daddies", tricking 11 women into sex acts with him, addressed the judge on Friday (Sep 24) in an appeal for a shorter jail term.
De Beers Wong Tian Jun, 39, requested to address the Chief Justice in the High Court after his defence lawyer had made arguments on his behalf to lower his sentence.
"I really feel bad and guilty until now, given that I have a good family. I have my son ... I couldn't understand why I couldn't take other things into consideration before making such a bad mistake in my life," said Wong.
Wong also said that a doctor's clarification report put forward by his lawyers was not an attempt by him to "weasel out of this", adding that he did not realise the amount of "stress and depression" he was going through when he committed the offences.
Wong's fiancee also asked to speak on his behalf, but the Chief Justice declined, saying he did not see what more she could add as she had already put in a character reference for Wong.
Wong pleaded guilty in March to 10 charges including cheating, criminal intimidation and possession of obscene photos for circulation. Another 26 charges were considered in sentencing.
He had devised a scheme in 2015 to advertise for "sugar babes" - paid escorts who provided sexual services to "sugar daddies" in exchange for money.
He put up ads posing as a freelance agent for sugar daddies, promising payments of between S$8,000 and S$20,000 a month to connect escorts to wealthy clients.
Between April 2015 and January 2016, at least 11 women aged between 18 and 24 fell for the scheme. Wong would first solicit nude photos from them "for vetting" and ask them to engage in sex acts with him for evaluation first.
After this, he would threaten to disseminate nude photos of the victims if they did not continue to have sex with him.
All the victims suffered mental anguish after encountering Wong, with some having recurring nightmares and others experiencing fear, anxiety and paranoia that he would leak their intimate pictures or videos.
One woman experienced anxiety attacks, crying bouts and shortness of breath and was later diagnosed with adjustment disorder with anxiety.
Wong did not delete the nude photos of the woman, even when she begged him, and said he would only do so if she gave him more sexual services.
When the woman told Wong that she was doing him a favour by not going to the police, he replied: "Now I have to pass your photos to my friends. In case anything happen(s) to me they will use the photos as they wish."
The woman lodged a police report against him a few days later.
LAWYER SEEKS SHORTER SENTENCE, CHIEF JUSTICE POINTS OUT AREAS OF CONCERN
Wong's lawyer, Mr Riko Isaac from Tembusu Law, on Friday sought a reduced sentence, saying that the district judge should have ordered three sentences to run consecutively instead of five.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said he could not see a strong argument for having an "upper limit" for serial offenders, as this might send a "very bad message" that they could commit as many offences as they wanted without penalty.
He added that he was troubled by several points: First, that the defence team sought a report from a doctor about Wong's purported mental condition at the time of the offences about five years after he committed them. On top of this, the lawyers did not extend the Statement of Facts to the doctor, who made his observations based purely on Wong's self-reported account and the charge sheets, said Chief Justice Menon.
The Statement of Facts was "incompatible" with what Wong told the doctor, said Chief Justice Menon. He asked Mr Isaac why the defence team had not provided the doctor the Statement of Facts, to which Mr Isaac said the honest truth was that they did not think of it.
"I think that is unsatisfactory," answered the Chief Justice, adding that the doctor's entire report was unreliable.
Mr Isaac went on to say Wong had a "good past" and was previously the grassroots chairman of Sengkang West. In response, Chief Justice Menon said: "There is a limit to how far you can push the clean record point".
CLIENT'S CONDUCT WAS "CRUEL": CHIEF JUSTICE
"I'm also concerned by what I saw as cruelty in his exchanges with one of the victims ... who suffered mental disorder as a result," said the Chief Justice.
"She was trying to get out of it, and your client's conduct was cruel. There's no other way to describe it. And that's a worry, because it raises the question as to what's really going on there, and how far have we really addressed these issues."
At this point, Wong asked to speak and was granted his request.
He said he was not saying that he "didn't do anything wrong", but that he only realised "the amount of stress and depression" he was going through at the time when he visited the doctor.
"In no way am I blaming my father, my in-laws or my ex-wife for what I went through that period of time, but it was only after visiting the doctor then I realised why I made such an unsound decision then," he said.
He added that he hoped the judge would see the doctor's report as "genuine" and that it was not done to "weasel myself out of this".
Chief Justice Menon reserved judgment and allowed both prosecution and defence to make further submissions including on how the court should approach sentencing in the context of cheating for sexual services.