British glam rocker Gary Glitter was sentenced to three years in prison by a Vietnamese court Friday (March 3) after being found guilty of molesting two 11-year-old girls. The 61-year-old singer was sentenced following a one-day, closed-door trial and proclaimed his innocence after the verdict was read, according to a Reuters report.
Glitter (born Paul Gadd), who has been in jail since November, could be free by December if he wins early parole, according to his lawyer, Le Thanh Kinh.
"I'm innocent," shouted the bald-headed, goateed Glitter, who is best known for his towering pompadour haircut and the early '70s hit "Rock & Roll, Pt. 2," which is still widely used as a hype song at sporting events around the world.
Judge Hoang Thanh Tung described in graphic detail the offenses committed by Glitter in the southern Vietnamese resort town of Vung Tau, reportedly drawing gasps from the witnesses in the courtroom. "The court pronounces the defendant, Paul Francis Gadd, also known as Gary Glitter, guilty of engaging in lewd acts with children," Tung said.
The chief investigator in the case, Colonel Nguyen Duc Trinh, said he had recovered 2,231 images of child pornography from Glitter's computer and 31 video clips, opening the way for prosecution by police in Britain if he ends up there after his deportation. Glitter is a registered sex offender in Britain following a 1999 conviction on child pornography charges.
The files found by the Vietnamese investigators were, "mainly children making love to each other, or naked children," Trinh told reporters. "Biologically, Glitter is not a normal person. A normal person would never store such photos." Trinh said he thought Glitter might have abused more children.
Following the verdict, Glitter was overrun by a horde of photographers, according to Reuters, many of them from British tabloids. The singer protested the judge's sentence and struck out at an unnamed British newspaper, which he blamed for his legal problems.
"It's a conspiracy. You know who," Glitter said as he was escorted to prison by 10 policemen. "One of Great Britain's newspapers."
Glitter will be given credit for the time he's spent in prison since November, but Judge Tung said he could be deported from the communist Asian nation at the end of his sentence and British police could prosecute Glitter for child sex crimes committed abroad. The British authorities have already questioned Glitter in jail and have been in contact with Vietnamese authorities, according to Reuters.
The singer — who was nabbed at Ho Chi Minh airport while trying to flee the country in November — has 15 days to appeal the verdict, but hasn't decided yet if he will. He will likely serve out his sentence in the same cell he's inhabited for the past three months, which Reuters described as a "two-man cell inside a windswept concrete prison, surrounded by AK-47-toting guards, mold-encrusted walls and coils of rusting razor wire."