Gary Glitter jailed for three years for child sex abuse
A Vietnamese court on Friday convicted former British glam rocker Gary Glitter of sexually abusing two underage Vietnamese girls and sentenced him to three years in prison.
The faded 1970s pop star, born Paul Francis Gadd, was found guilty of “committing obscene acts with children”—two girls aged 11 and 12—last year in the South China Sea resort town of Vung Tau.
Glitter (61) will be deported from the communist country after serving out his sentence, the three-member panel of judges at the Ba Ria Vung Tau Provincial People’s Court ruled.
“The defendant had exhibited disgusting and ill-intentioned behaviour towards children several times, causing displeasure and condemnation among the public”, said presiding judge Hoang Thanh Tung.
“He must be duly punished.”
“Although Gary Glitter did not admit his crimes, investigative agencies had enough evidence of his several obscene acts with the victims,” he said.
Glitter had maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings and claimed he was teaching the girls English, allowing them to stay overnight because they were scared of ghosts.
The Briton, his head shaved except for a grey ponytail and a goatee, violently protested after the verdict and sentence were translated into English.
“I’m innocent,” he shouted. “It’s a conspiracy by you know who.”
Asked who he was referring to as he was escorted through a chaotic media scrum, Glitter said: “One of Britain’s great newspapers.”
The flamboyant singer was found in Vietnam by a London newspaper last year, which said he was living with a teenage girl in Vung Tau.
“It was not a fair trial,” he said as uniformed guards pushed him into a prison van.
The disgraced rock star—the first foreigner to be tried for sex crimes in post-war Vietnam—has 15 days to appeal the verdict and sentence.
If the ruling is upheld and the singer goes to prison, he will be eligible to apply for parole after serving one-third of his jail term, including the more than three months he has spent behind bars since his November arrest.
That means Glitter could be eligible for parole before Christmas.
“After one year, the management of the prison can consider his behaviour and Glitter could get parole,” his lawyer Le Thanh Kinh said.
Glitter was arrested at Ho Chi Minh City airport on November 19 while trying to board a flight to Thailand.
The singer—who stood accused of kissing, fondling and engaging in other unspecified sexual acts with the girls—last year evaded more serious charges of child rape, which carry a maximum penalty of death by firing squad.
Before the trial opened on Thursday, he paid $2 000 in compensation to the family of each alleged victim.
In Thursday’s hearing, they respectively demanded an additional $3 000 and $8 000 from Glitter, but the court refused.
“This was unacceptable”, said Hoang Thanh Tung.
The court instead ordered Glitter to pay another 5 000 000 dongs (over $300) to each family.
The ex-rocker once known for his bouffant wigs, extravagant makeup and silver jump suits scored a string of hits in the 1970s including I’m the Leader of the Gang [I Am].
Friday’s verdict marked the latest stage in an international legal odyssey that started after the singer’s release halfway through his four-month jail sentence in Britain for possession of child pornography in 1999.
Pursued by the British media, Glitter reportedly moved to Cuba, then resettled in Cambodia, where he lived on and off for years before he was expelled in 2002 after reportedly trawling for child sex. - AFP