The former pop star Gary Glitter has been sentenced to three years in prison by a Vietnamese court for molesting two underage girls at his seaside villa last year.
The court found Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, guilty of "committing obscene acts" with a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old but spared him the maximum sentence of seven years because he had paid the families of the victims $2,000 (£1,140) compensation.
Surrounded by uniformed guards, the disgraced singer showed little emotion as Judge Hoang Thanh Tung read out his verdict. "Caring for our children is to care for our future," the judge said, "but Gary Glitter's acts went against this. He sexually abused and committed obscene acts with children many times in a disgusting and sick manner."
Only when he was informed by his translator of the sentence did Glitter seem to realise there was no longer any chance of avoiding jail. As he was bundled out of the courtroom amid chaotic scenes the 61-year-old continued to protest his innocence, shouting, "I haven't done anything. I'm innocent. It's a conspiracy by you know who", apparently referring to British newspapers which had helped the Vietnamese authorities to expose him.
As Glitter returned to his two-man cell in Phuoc Co prison there was anger at the news that he could be freed by the end of the year and deported back to Britain. He has already spent four months in prison since his arrest at Ho Chi Minh airport in November last year and could be free by Christmas if he is given early parole.
Christine Beddoe, director of End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (Ecpat), said that although Glitter did not receive the maximum sentence, the conviction still sent out a strong message against sex tourism. "We are pleased that justice has been done and he has been found guilty. A three-year sentence is a very strong sentence in a country like Vietnam."
The availability of child sex workers in Asia makes countries such as Vietnam an easyhunting ground for paedophiles, charities warn. According to reports, up to a million children enter the global sex market every year. More than 650,000 children under the age of 16 work as prostitutes in Asia.
In 1999Glitter was jailed for four months in the UK for possessing 4,000 hardcore photographs of children being abused.