$1000 fine for stealing $1.5m watch - Friday 12th of August 2005

A PROSTITUTE who stole a $1.5 million watch from the hotel suite of a Crown casino high roller has walked from court without conviction.

Former brothel worker Michelle Taylor, 21, admitted she swiped the diamond-studded watch from her wealthy client, but was now on the straight and narrow.

County Court Chief Judge Michael Rozenes accepted that Ms Taylor, who has quit the sex industry to become a dancer, had turned her life around.

Ms Taylor, who was once known as "Paris" to her clients, was yesterday fined $1000 after pleading guilty to the theft.

The court heard Ms Taylor swiped the wealthy gamblers diamond-studded Patek Philippe watch while he showered in a Crown Towers room in January last year.

Ms Taylor was working at the Daily Planet brothel in Elsternwick when she was hired as a $300-an-hour escort for high roller Hong Wei Han.

The court was told she rummaged through the suites bedside drawers and stole the watch after having sex with the Mahogany Room VIP.

The next day police raided her bedroom, found the watch hidden under her mattress and returned it to its owner. Ms Taylor later told investigators she thought the watch -- studded with sapphires and 580 diamonds -- was a fake.

She said she took it in anger after Mr Han performed a sex act to which she hadnt consented. She was unaware of the watchs value.

"I just wanted to hurt him, I guess," she told police.

Judge Rozenes said the story had received substantial media coverage and the public humiliation had strained an already fractured relationship with her family. The court heard Ms Taylors parents paid for an expensive secondary education for their daughter and had not approved of her lifestyle.

Ms Taylor admitted having two earlier convictions, including one for shoplifting from a supermarket. She has also admitted making a false rape report.

But Judge Rozenes said Ms Taylor was still young and had since reformed her ways.

"(You) have turned your life around," he said. "There is every reason to believe you will not be in court again."

He accepted the theft was spontaneous and that Ms Taylor had no idea of the value of the watch.

"In the end there was no real harm done, the watch having been returned to its rightful owner in a relatively short time," he said.

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