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Man jailed over paying minor for sex, months after release from prison for same offence

SINGAPORE — Despite having just served time behind bars for trying to pay a minor for sex, Andy Kow Yong Wen returned to his old ways and found another 16-year-old girl on classifieds website Locanto.

Man jailed over paying minor for sex, months after release from prison for same offence

The court heard that Andy Kow Yong Wen had already served a prison term for paying a minor for sex.

  • Andy Kow Yong Wen was jailed for three months in April 2019 for trying to pay a 16-year-old girl for sex
  • He began seeking girls online months after his release
  • Barely a year later, he met another girl online and engaged in sexual acts with her, offering to pay her S$50 to S$100
  • When the girl’s mother and school found out, he used a different Telegram account to contact her again
  • His lawyer said he suffered from an “ugly addiction” but has since gotten professional help

SINGAPORE — Despite having just served time behind bars for trying to pay a minor for sex, Andy Kow Yong Wen returned to his old ways and found another 16-year-old girl on classifieds website Locanto.

The renovation contractor engaged in sexual acts with the girl at a place that belonged to his business client.

He offered to pay her S$50 to S$100 for this, but his offences soon came to light when the girl’s mother saw some incriminating text messages from him on her mobile phone.

Kow, 45, was jailed for one year and three months on Tuesday (Dec 14) after pleading guilty to obtaining commercial sex with a minor and attempting to obtain commercial sex with a minor.

One other charge of possessing obscene films was taken into consideration for sentencing.

The girl cannot be named due to a court order to protect her identity.

Kow had earlier been jailed for three months in April 2019 for trying to pay a 16-year-old girl S$500 for sex.

The court heard that for the latest offences, Kow posted several advertisements on Locanto from December 2019 until March 2020.

He offered money to female students — such as from junior colleges or the Institute of Technical Education — without specifying the reason why.

The victim in this case was looking for sources of extra income to supplement the allowance her mother gave her. After coming across one of Kow’s posts, she contacted him for more details and he gave her his username on the messaging platform Telegram.

She told him that she was 16 years old when he asked for her age and name. He also told her his name and that he was 30 years old, before asking for a selfie.

When she obliged, they agreed to meet the next day. Kow asked her what she was open to doing, to which she replied “whatever”.

Kow then asked if she had sex before and if she was open to it. She replied that she had never had sex but was open to “anything”.

When he asked what amount of allowance she was expecting, she specified at least S$50 to S$100.

Later that evening, he questioned her about whether she had a boyfriend and whether she had performed certain sexual acts before.

He also played her an audio clip of another female, who was not identified in court documents, describing him as a “nice guy” and saying that the victim could be “comfortable” with him.

USED DIFFERENT ACCOUNT TO CONTACT HER

On March 18 last year, Kow picked the girl up in his company car at a car park near Newton Food Centre before driving to a more secluded area of the car park.

She told him the name of the school where she was studying, before he said that they should go to a more discreet place with fewer people around.

He drove them closer to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, then kissed and touched her for about 10 minutes.

He then said that they could go to his employer’s house and he would pay her afterwards. Instead, he took her to his client’s home along Holland Road and entered the unit using an access card.

They engaged in sexual acts before he took her home.

During the journey, he said that he would book a hotel room the next day to have sex with her and that he would hand her money for both occasions then.

He made the booking and contacted her on Telegram about it, saying he hoped to pick her up at 5pm.

When the girl’s mother saw the message and called him, he denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the hotel room was for himself. She pressed him further and he then admitted that he had met the girl, but claimed that they did not do anything.

The girl’s mother reported the matter to her school, and the girl later came clean with her school counsellor.

She told Kow and he asked her to lie that both of them had liked each other but there was no promise of money. She then blocked him on Telegram.

He proceeded to use a different Telegram account to send her more messages, such as asking to be her “friends with benefits” and offering to be her personal driver. He also asked if she could make him feel “less lonely” and offered to give her S$200 to S$400 a week.

He sent these messages on a self-destruct function, which meant that the messages would be auto-deleted after a certain period, but the girl managed to capture screenshots of them.

LAWYER SAYS HE HAD ‘UGLY ADDICTION’

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hidayat Amir sought 19 to 25 months’ jail, noting that what Kow did was more serious than his previous commercial sex offence.

Kow’s lawyer, Mr Justin Ng from law firm Kalco Law, asked for nine months’ jail instead, urging District Judge Lim Tse Haw to see that Kow was not beyond redemption.

The defence counsel said that Kow grew up without much adult supervision or guidance, becoming “deeply entangled” in drugs at age 24. He was sentenced to 15 years’ jail in 2001 for drug-related offences, then “struggled against odds to pick up the pieces of his life” when he was released.

“His childhood issues remained unaddressed and manifested in an ugly addiction of meeting girls online to satisfy his need for intimacy,” Mr Ng added.

This led to Kow’s prior conviction but he remained unaware of the issues he faced, which resulted in him reoffending. He has attended therapy sessions every fortnight since April last year to address these problems.

Kow is now confident he has a chance to "take a different path from where he has gone before”, Mr Ng said.

The judge allowed Kow to start serving his sentence on Feb 7 in order to complete his existing renovation projects and settle his affairs. His bail quantum was raised from S$20,000 to S$30,000.

Those convicted of obtaining commercial sex from a minor can be jailed for up to seven years and fined.

Related topics

court crime underage sex teenager Telegram

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