A PROSTITUTE won an appeal against a four-month sentence after claiming she had been dealt with by the 'wrong' magistrate. Lai Mei-ying, 22, appeared on a Saturday at Eastern Court charged with breaching the conditions of her stay in Hong Kong by working. At the weekend, the presiding magistrate is usually Yung Yiu-wing, the High Court heard yesterday. Lai's barrister, Petrus Chan, submitted that if his client had been dealt with by Mr Yung she would have received a more lenient sentence. But Mr Yung was on leave on July 22, when she appeared. Instead, she was sentenced by James Lee, who jailed her for four months. Lai, a mainlander, pleaded guilty. But Mr Chan said the four-month penalty was out of step with sentences imposed on other defendants facing similar charges. He said that on August 4 Mr Yung dealt with a case involving manual workers on Lamma Island. One of the defendants was in breach of his condition of stay and Mr Yung imposed a one-month jail term. As the offence was one of breaching the immigration regulations, Mr Chan said, it did not matter whether the defendant was doing a legitimate job such as construction work or working as a prostitute. John McMaster, for the Crown, said circumstances in such cases varied considerably. In Lai's case, the magistrate had imposed the sentence both as a punishment and to deter visitors from such activities. Mr Justice Stuart-Moore ruled the sentence imposed was too long and ordered it to be reduced from four months to four weeks. The judge said he had studied a synopsis of 24 cases. The four-month sentence appeared longer than in similar cases, he said, adding that Mr Lee might not have had such information available when he imposed the sentence. Lai arrived in Hong Kong from China on June 7 with permission to stay for three months as a visitor. The court heard she agreed to work for a prostitution ring, which was infiltrated by undercover police officers. A meeting was arranged at a Wan Chai karaoke bar on July 19. Lai was offered to one of the officers as a prostitute. They booked into a nearby villa. After $3,000 in marked money had been handed over, an officer arrested Lai. She admitted offering him sexual services. The judge was told Lai had no previous convictions.