Singapore: A Singaporean of Indian-origin, who underwent a sex change operation, was spared the cane but sentenced to 14 months jail for damaging property and harassing a debtor.
21-year-old transsexual Benitha, formerly known as Kavi Raj Tamaraselvan, was sent to the women jail for her role in setting fire to the door of an apartment in the Ang Mo Kio public housing estate, The Straits Times reported on Saturday.
Male offenders would normally receive between three and six strokes of the cane for each such offence, but Benitha had undergone sex change in Thailand six months before committing the offence.
District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim said that since Benitha is now a woman there would be no caning.
Benitha wore a tight-fitting red top in court.
Pleading for leniency, defence counsel Rajan Supramaniam said that Banitha had fallen under the "corrupting influence" of Geevanraj Balraj, one of her two accomplices and who had promised to marry her.
Geenvanraj, 20, was sentenced last November to reformative training for between 1-1/2 years and three years.
Benitha`s other accomplice was a 15-year-old boy, who cannot be named for being a minor but was placed on probation for two years.
The trio were arrested on September 14 last year for scribing graffiti and setting fire to the door of the apartment. They used petrol, which Geevanraj had stolen from a motorcycle in a carpark.
Benitha took pictures of the graffiti and recorded the fire with a mobile phone to show an unlicensed moneylender, who has been identified only as Alex.
Unemployed Geevanraj ran into financial difficulties after he suffered 4000 dollars losses on football bets.
To pay the debts, he started working with Alex in September last year, receiving 200 dollars for each harassment job, which involved damaging properties of others who owe money to the unlicensed moneylender. The trio also committed two similar offences two days before their arrests and defaced a car by scribbling graffiti on its bonnet.
The court took these three offences into consideration when sentencing Benitha, who could have been jailed up to five years and fined between 5,000 and 50,000 dollars.
Her two accomplices were also spared the cane because of their young age, according to the report.
Loan shark runners were commonly used by unlicensed moneylenders to harassing indebted people by setting house doors on fire and spreading graffiti to shame and insult them.