A judge sent two teenage offenders to a training centre yesterday even though the Correctional Services Department said they were unsuitable for the programme because they were pregnant. District Court Judge Wayne Wilson expressed surprise last Friday at a departmental report that Ling Fung-tuen, 17, was considered medically unfit for a training centre programme because she was two months' pregnant. It was revealed yesterday that another female offender, Fung Hiu-chong, 17, was also found not suitable for the training centre as she was three months' pregnant. The department was asked to submit a supplementary report to explain why pregnancy was considered a hurdle to an otherwise suitable sentence. The report said that training centre programmes were physically demanding and that pregnant inmates needed special care and were considered unsuitable. The judge, however, remained unconvinced. 'The original principle of a training centre is to provide an institution for young persons for the purpose of rehabilitation while keeping them apart from adult prisoners. This principle is, in my view, paramount,' he said. 'The authority should be prepared to tailor programmes and provide facilities for pregnant inmates, rather than the other way round.' Correctional Services Superintendent Lam Lou said outside court there were already tailor-made programmes for pregnant inmates in training centres, but that these inmates might not progress as quickly as others because of their condition. 'We are always ready to take pregnant inmates but we need to point out the difficulty to the judge before he makes any decision,' Mr Lam said. Fifteen pregnant offenders were sent to training centres between 1997 and 1999, according to Mr Lam. Offenders under 21 are eligible to serve time at the centres, where emphasis is on educational and vocational training. This form of custodial sentence is not for a fixed period and ranges between six months and three years, depending on inmates' progress. Ling and Fung teamed up with Cheung Chi-wai, 19, to trap clients seeking sex services on various occasions between August and September last year. Advertisements were placed in newspapers and pornographic magazines to lure men, who then found themselves surrendering money for nothing after being threatened by the girls' male 'boss' over the telephone. The scam came to light when an undercover policeman posed as a customer and arrested Ling. Ling pleaded guilty to blackmail and theft, while Fung and Cheung, who were convicted last month, denied the charges. Judge Wilson found the young offenders had committed 'nasty, sophisticated and carefully planned' offences which called for custodial sentences and sent the trio to a training centre.