Vietnam Releases Gary Glitter From Prison

British rocker Gary Glitter, right, is led by an unidentified man at the Phuoc To prison in Vung Tau, Vietnam in this Nov. 20, 2005 file photo.
AP
Authorities freed British glam rocker Gary Glitter from prison in southern Vietnam on Tuesday, sending the convicted child molester into an uncertain future after nearly three years of confinement.

Glitter, 64, left Vietnam on a flight to Bangkok on which he was seated in business class in an apparent effort to shield him from reporters also on the plane. He wore a broad-brimmed cap and wrapped a scarf over part of his face, even as he read a magazine.

According to a Thai Airways staff member, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to release such information, Glitter was booked to continue on to London.

Glitter, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, was convicted in March 2006 of committing "obscene acts with children." He served 2 years and 9 months of a three-year sentence, which was reduced for good behavior.

The incidents involved two girls, ages 10 and 11, from the southern coastal city of Vung Tau.

In a recent interview with Vietnamese newspaper Cong An Nhan Dan (People's Police), Glitter said he was thinking about resuming his singing career and that he might move to Hong Kong or Singapore. His lawyer, Le Thanh Kinh, has said he does not want to return to Britain.

In his 1970s heyday, Glitter performed in glittery jumpsuits, silver platform shoes and bouffant wigs. He sold 18 million records and recorded a string of British top-10 hits.

His most successful song, the crowd-pleasing anthem "Rock and Roll (Part 2)" cracked the top 10 in the United States, where it continues to bring sports fans to their feet with its rousing one-word chorus: "Hey!"

During the 1990s, Glitter became something of a has-been, living off his past glory and doing occasional quiz shows and variety performances.

Glitter's fall from grace began in 1997, when he brought his laptop computer to a repair shop and an employee there discovered he had downloaded thousands of hardcore pornographic images of children. Two years later, British authorities convicted him of possession of child pornography, and Glitter served half of his four-month jail term.

He later went to Cambodia but was expelled in 2002, after children's rights advocates protested his presence in the country. Cambodian officials did not specify a crime or file charges against him.

Glitter subsequently moved to Vietnam, where he took up residence in a seaside villa in Vung Tau, a resort town.

Neighbors there said they often heard the bald and burly Glitter singing loudly by his swimming pool and entertaining teenage girls from behind the walls surrounding his home.

In November 2005, police launched a weeklong manhunt for Glitter after allegations arose that he had been molesting girls at his villa. He was arrested at the Ho Chi Minh City airport, where he was trying to board a flight to Bangkok.

He was convicted in March 2006, and the trial judge denounced him for "disgusting and sick" behavior.

The court verdict said that Glitter had molested the girls repeatedly at his villa and in nearby hotels.

Although Glitter proclaimed his innocence, he was sentenced to three years in prison and given credit for time already served. His sentence was reduced by three months last year for good behavior during Vietnam's annual Lunar New Year prison amnesty.