A 35-year-old man pleaded guilty today (Jan 12) to extorting S$197,000 in cash and other luxury goods from an older male teacher he had an affair with, by threatening to expose their trysts to the Education Ministry (MOE) and his victim’s school.
Ng Hian Gee Vincent faces up to seven years’ jail and caning for one count of extortion. Seven similar charges will be taken into consideration when he is sentenced on Feb 15.
Pressing for a jail term of at least four years and three to four strokes of the cane, deputy public prosecutor said the 45-year-old victim — who cannot be named due to a gag order — had suffered for about six months and his “entire life savings… gouged out by Ng”.
After they met through an online web portal TREVVY in late August 2013, the victim invited Ng, who is married, to his house where they engaged in homosexual acts, a district court heard. According to its website, TREVVY was set up in March 1999 to connect the gay community in Singapore.
However, the victim later asked Ng to leave as he felt uncomfortable.
When he found out through the internet that the victim was a teacher, Ng started to blackmail him, demanded large amounts of money as “compensation” and threatened to report their relationship to authorities.
Fearing for his reputation and job security, the victim succumbed to Ng’s threats, which persisted from September 2013 to March the next year. The court heard that Ng had succeeded in demanding, among other things, cash amounting to S$197,000 and luxury goods worth S$51,900 — including one gold pendant, one Rolex watch, one gold chain and four Chanel bags — from the victim.
The victim made a police report only in March 2014, when he was “at his wit’s end”, said DPP Wuan.
As Ng had gambled away the bulk of his money, he was only able to provide restitution of S$24,000 to date. He has also returned the Rolex watch, gold chain and gold pendant to the victim.
Urging the court not to treat Ng as a first-time offender despite his clean record, DPP Wuan said the offences are aggravated by Ng’s recalcitrance.
“Not satisfied with his ill-gotten gains when he first committed the offence, he continued to torment the victim in order to satiate his desire to gamble. An enhanced sentence is therefore warranted due to (Ng’s) recalcitrance,” he charged, adding that deterrence should be the foremost sentencing consideration in this case.
Ng’s lawyer James Ow Yong asked for his sentence to be deferred till after the upcoming festive period so that Ng can “spend the final Chinese New Year with his mother before the inevitable”. Ng’s mother was admitted to the hospital on Jan 10 and is critically ill, the court was told.
In mitigation, Mr Ow Yong said Ng committed the offences under “frailty of (his) state of mind” due to his failed attempt at a relationship.
In response, DPP Ng said “frailty of mind” is no excuse for Ng’s offences, which persisted over a long time period.
“It is trite law that personal financial hardship and ill health are not mitigating factors except in exceptional circumstances. This is no such case,” he added.
Ng, who is unemployed, is out on a bail of S$20,000.