On 21 July 2006, Ms Somsri Yotchomchin and Mr Johan Sieders were each convicted of one count of conducting a business, namely a brothel, that involved the sexual servitude of others, contrary to what was formerly s270.6(2) of the Criminal Code.

During the period 1 December 2003 to 31 May 2004, Ms Yotchomchin and Mr Sieders recruited four women from Thailand to travel to Australia to work in the sex industry. The women each accumulated a debt of $45,000, being made up of $15,000 for their visa and travel expenses and a further $30,000 for the opportunity to live and work in Australia.

A tourist visa was obtained and a return airline ticket purchased for each of the women by a Thai woman known as Pat. She also provided each of them with a sum of money to be used to show immigration officials upon arrival in Australia, if required, that they were each capable of supporting themselves. On the plane from Thailand to Australia, each woman was accompanied by a young Thai male who the women had never met before and who they never saw again. Once in Australia, the women worked in brothels owned by Ms Yotchomchin and Mr Sieders. They were not paid for their work and instead were told the money made from their sexual services would go directly towards paying off their debt.

Ms Yotchomchin and Mr Sieders both pleaded not guilty to the charges of servitude however, following the discharge of two juries, both were found guilty. On 8 December 2006, Ms Yotchomchin was sentenced to five years imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years and six months. Mr Sieders was sentenced to four years imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years.

Both Ms Yotchomchin and Mr Sieders lodged appeals in relation to their convictions on the grounds that the verdicts were unreasonable and could not be supported by the evidence and that there had been a miscarriage of justice by the trial judge in providing the jury with an incorrect direction as to the fault element of the offence. Appeals against sentence were also lodged on the basis that the sentences imposed were manifestly excessive. On 13 August 2008, the New South Wales Court of Appeal dismissed both of the appeals against conviction and sentence.

Case Citation

Sieders v R; Somsri v R [2008] NSWCCA 187

R v Sieders; R v Yotchomchin [2007] NSWDC 101

Regina v Johan Sieders and Somsri Yotchomchin [2006] NSWDC 184