A man complied when a woman who would soon become his lover asked him to rent an apartment so that she could work as a prostitute there.

Yesterday (April 28), Lim Meng Hwee, 29, pleaded guilty to one charge of using the rental unit as a brothel and one charge of deceiving the unit’s landlord over the intended use of the property.

One charge of obstructing the course of justice by deleting text messages containing evidence was taken into consideration for sentencing.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt sentenced Lim to 11 weeks’ jail.

Court documents redacted the name of his 36-year-old lover, who is also a witness in the case.

What happened

In December 2019, Lim met the woman over WeChat, a messaging app.

From June 2020, the two engaged in a romantic relationship.

Just before that, in May 2020, the woman asked Lim to rent a housing unit on her behalf. Court documents redacted the location of the unit.

At that time, Lim suspected that she intended to use the unit for the purpose of prostitution.

His suspicion was confirmed when he found advertisements posted by the woman promoting her sexual services on several vice-related websites.

Lim confronted the woman and she admitted that she worked as a sex worker.

Still, he agreed to rent the unit on her behalf, despite knowing that she intended to use it for prostitution.

She told him not to rent an apartment if it was guarded by a security guard.

He understood that this was because she wanted to ensure that her customers could enter the unit without arousing any suspicions.

On May 24, 2020, Lim met the owner of the unit, Gary Ching Hiang Chye, to sign a lease agreement.

He told Ching that he intended to live in the apartment, and that he would observe the terms of the lease agreement.

Among the terms was that Lim was not to assign, sublet or part with the possession of the unit to other individuals without Ching’s consent.

He was also not allowed to use the apartment for illegal activities.

The rental period was from May 25 to August 24, 2020.

That night, Lim helped the woman to move into the apartment.

The next day, she began to use the unit as a brothel by providing her customers with sexual services. She offered those services until four days before the end of the rental period.

Throughout this period, Lim knew that she was providing sexual services in the unit as she would inform him not to enter the unit whenever she had a customer over.

On 10 separate occasions, her customers had deposited a total of S$700 in his bank account, in return for her sexual services.

He used her earnings to pay the apartment’s WiFi and utility bills.

Her customers would contact her through social messaging apps and obtain her contact details from her profile on various vice-related websites, and request her sexual services.

She would then arrange to meet them at the unit.

Lim’s offences were uncovered in a police raid on the unit on August 20, 2020.

He was arrested on August 10 last year.

In court on Friday, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Etsuko Lim sought between 11 and 14 weeks’ jail on the basis of deterrence.

DPP Lim said there was strong public interest in deterring dishonest tenancies.

She said that Lim knew the unit would be used as a brothel and that he obstructed the course of justice by deleting messages that could be used as evidence.

These messages would have revealed his intention of using the unit as a brothel.

While his defence counsel, Pratap Kishan and Jasmine Yan Ziyun, did not seek a specific sentence, they sought a “fair sentence” for Lim.

In mitigation, Kishan said: “Lim has admitted to the offences without qualification at the earliest available opportunity. He is seeking the court to consider that he is a first-time offender and for the court to grant a fair sentence.”

Anyone convicted of cheating and dishonestly inducing a person to deliver a property can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined, while tenants who are first-time offenders using their rental unit as a brothel may be jailed for up to five years, fined up to S$100,000 or both. ― TODAY

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