DT v Public Prosecutor

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeKow Keng Siong
Judgment Date28 April 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGDC 138
Citation[2001] SGDC 138
Publication Date18 August 2009
Plaintiff CounselDPP Tam Kem Tse
Defendant CounselNathan and Anand Nalachandran

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The details of this judgment have been changed to comply with the Children and Young Persons Act and/or the Women's Charter]

28 April 2001

District Judge Kow Keng Siong

The charges & the appeal

1. The Appellant, DT, claimed trial to 2 molest charges under section 354 of the Penal Code. At the end of the trial, I convicted him on both the charges and sentenced him to a total of 24 months imprisonment and 4 strokes of the cane.

2. The Appellant has filed an appeal against his convictions and sentence. I now set out the reasons for my decision.

Prosecution’s Case

3. It is the Prosecution’s case that the Appellant outraged the modesty of his step-daughter [the complainant] (D.O.B. xx-xx-1983)

a. Sometime between May or June 1993: pressing his body against hers along the corridor outside [Flat 1]; and

b. Sometime in May 1996: by using his fingers to touch her vagina at [Flat 2].

Undisputed facts

4. The marriage and children In November 1992, the Appellant married [A]. At the material time, [A] already had 2 children from a previous marriage, which ended in a divorce. They are [the complainant] (first child) and [B] (second child). One year after their marriage (1993), the Appellant and [A] had a daughter, [C].

5. Living arrangements - After their marriage, the Appellant and [A] set up home at [Flat 2]. This flat was owned by [A].

6. [The complainant] and [B] did not stay with their mother at [Flat 2] after her remarriage. Since young, [the complainant] and [B] had been cared for by their maternal grandmother, [D] and were staying with her at [Flat 1]. This living arrangement continued even after the Appellant and [A]’s marriage.

7. Nevertheless, despite living in separate households, the Appellant and [A] would still visit [the complainant] and [B] regularly. There were also occasions when [the complainant] and [B] would visit their mother at [Flat 2], without staying overnight.

8. There was an occasion where the Appellant and [A] moved into [Flat 1] to look after [the complainant] and [B]. This was in May 1993 when [D] went on a haj. After [D]’s return from Mecca, the Appellant and [A] returned to stay at [Flat 2].

9. In 1997, the Appellant and [A] shifted to [Flat 3]. This flat was paid for by [A] and jointly owned by both of them. [D] kept some of her things at this flat.

10. [A]’s death and the Appellants remarriage In 1997, [A] died from a road traffic accident while in Johor Bahru. The Appellant was with her at that time. After [A]’s death, the Appellant decided to remarry and he accordingly sent [D] a wedding invitation card sometime in May 1998. The Appellant eventually remarried on 4 June 1998.

11. Incident on 22 May 1998 About 2 weeks before the Appellants remarriage, in the evening of 22 May 1998, there was a gathering involving members from [A]’s family at [E]’s ([A]’s sister) house. They included

a. [the complainant],

b. [D],

c. [E],

d. [J] ([E]’s husband),

e. [F] ([A]’s brother), and

f. [K] ([A]’s brother).

12. One of the members at the gathering called the Appellant (who was then staying with his father at [Flat 4]) for the purpose of collecting [D]’s belongings from [Flat 3]. The Appellant however asked them to do so on another day.

13. In spite of the Appellants reply, the gathering proceeded to [Flat 4] that same evening. The Appellant invited them into the flat. At that time, the Appellants brother ([H]) was also present.

14. Initially, the conversation was cordial. However, the amicable mood soon degenerated into a confrontation between [A]’s family and the Appellants. Amongst the things that were said, were allegations by [D] and [E] against the Appellant. [E]’s allegation so angered [J] (her husband) that he wanted to assault the Appellant. [F] suggested making a police report.

15. Arising from what transpired at the flat, both [the complainant] and the Appellant made separate police reports (exh D1 and D2 respectively) soon thereafter. In [the complainant]’s case, her police report was written by [F].

Issues at the trial

16. The Appellant denied the 2 charges of molest against him. As such, this case involved a factual determination on the credibility of witnesses of the respective parties.

17. An interesting issue was also thrown up in the course of the trial, and this related to the application of section 122(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

Prosecution’s Evidence

[The complainant] (The victim)

18. [The complainant] was 17 years old at the time of the trial. According to her, the Appellant molested her on 2 separate occasions in May 1993 (at age 10) and May 1996 (at age 13).

19. The first incident occurred at the common corridor outside her grandmother’s flat [Flat 1] at about 6 pm. The Appellant told [the complainant] to lean against the wall along the corridor and she complied. He then lifted her skirt before pressing his penis against her groin. Both of them were clothed at that time. They stood there for about one minute before he walked back into the flat. [The complainant] was very disgusted by the experience and knew that something was wrong. However, she did not tell her mother (who was then in the kitchen) what had happened because she did not know what to expect. She was not sure whether what the Appellant did was correct or acceptable.

20. After [D] returned from Mecca, [the complainant] told her that the Appellant had lifted her skirt and that then leaned his body against hers. [The complainant] also told her that he did a bit of rubbing. According to [the complainant], her grandmother did not want to believe her, although she ([the complainant]) said it was true. [D] told [the complainant] not to talk about this nonsense. [The complainant] did not thereafter tell anyone else about this incident.

21. The second molest incident happened when [the complainant] went with her younger brother to visit her mother and stepsister at [Flat 2]. The Appellant was not at home when she arrived at the flat. [The complainant] was in her mother’s bedroom with her stepsister (who was then about 2 years old) when the Appellant (who had just returned from work) entered the room. The Appellant told [the complainant] to lie down on the mattress. He then unzipped her jeans, and at the same time telling her to relax. Thereafter, the Appellant put his hands into her undies and used his fingers to touch her vagina. This lasted for a short while. After touching her, the Appellant told [the complainant] not to tell anybody about it. [The complainant] was too shocked and scared to do anything. [The complainant] zipped up her pants and walked out of the room. Although [the complainant] wanted to leave the house immediately, her mother refused, saying that she would sent [the complainant] and her brother home. This meant having to wait until 7 pm because her mother drove a weekend car. [The complainant] was angry with her mother for this. [The complainant] did not tell her mother about what had happened because she thought that being the Appellants wife, her mother might think that she made up this story and was afraid of being scolded. Furthermore, [the complainant] did not want to hurt her mother’s feelings.

22. [The complainant] felt very disgusted and frustrated by what the Appellant had done to her. Upon reaching her grandmother’s place, [the complainant] went into her room and started crying. After much coaxing by her grandmother, [the complainant] finally revealed to her that the Appellant had unzipped her jeans. When her grandmother asked her whether she was telling the truth, she replied yes. Upon hearing this, her grandmother looked upset and was silent for a while before instructing [the complainant] not to tell this to anybody. Her grandmother told [the complainant] that she did not want anybody to know about this, not even her mother [A]. She made [the complainant] promise not talk about this at all.

23. Nevertheless, [the complainant] did tell her close friend, [G], about the molest the next day at school. This was when [G] kept asking her what had happened after noticing her crying the whole day and looking very upset. Before telling [G], [the complainant] made her promise not to tell anybody about it. She then told [G] that she had been molested by her stepfather, without revealing the details. When [G] asked her whether she had made a police report, [the complainant] replied that she did not because her grandmother would not let her.

24. After her mother’s death, both [the complainant] and her grandmother just want to forget about the molest incidents. After all, there would be lesser chance of the Appellant going to her grandmother’s flat.

25. Turning to the events of 22 May 1998, [the complainant] stated that her grandmother had originally wanted her to stay at her aunts ([E]’s) flat. However, [the complainant] accompanied the rest to visit the Appellant because she wanted to collect her deceased mother’s old photos and clothes. In the course of the talk at the Appellant’s father’s flat [Flat 4], her grandmother blurted out that the Appellant had done something to her ([the complainant]) in the past. The Appellant, who was then standing, slumped onto the couch upon hearing this.

26. In regards to the making of the police report (exh D1), [the complainant] testified that she related briefly the incidents to her uncle ([F]) who then wrote it down. Her grandmother also provided the information about the number of occasions and time when the incidents occurred.

Application for [the complainant]’s police statements

27. In the course of cross-examining [the complainant], the Defence applied for a copy of her statement pursuant to section 122(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which reads:

When any witness is called for the prosecution or for the Defence, other than the accused, the court shall, on the request of the accused or the prosecutor, refer to any statement made by that witness to a police officer in the course of a police investigation under...

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