Lai Oei Mui Jenny v Public Prosecutor

JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date10 July 1993
Neutral Citation[1993] SGHC 157
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 30/93/01
Date10 July 1993
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselChoo Si Sen (Choo & Joethy)
Citation[1993] SGHC 157
Defendant CounselSheik Mustafa Hassan (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterFinancial hardship of accused a mitigating factor only in very exceptional or extreme circumstances,Newton hearings,No financial gain from criminal act a legitimate mitigating factor but carries little weight,Weight to be attributed to it to be at court's discretion,Mitigation,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing

On 12 January 1993 the appellant pleaded guilty in the district court to a charge of giving false information to a public servant in 1989, contrary to s 182 of the Penal Code (Cap 224). She had made a false police report stating that she had lost her Singapore passport, when in fact she had sold it for $500 while in need of money. The maximum penalty under s 182 of the Penal Code was a $1,000 fine and 6 months` imprisonment. She told the district court that she had to look after two children and had a heart ailment and a gastric ulcer.

She was convicted and sentenced to two months` imprisonment, and appealed against this sentence as being manifestly excessive.
I dismissed the appeal and now give reasons for my decision.

Before this court, counsel for the appellant relied upon several arguments which had not been put before the district court, when the appellant had been unrepresented.
She had made no financial gain and had in the past contributed voluntary public service. I considered these factors to be legitimate mitigating factors but of very little weight.

Counsel also contended that the district judge had taken into account matters that were irrelevant and adverse to the appellant, because he had said in his grounds of decision that traffic in Singapore passports was not only difficult to curb, but also prejudicial to the reputation of our passports and the convenience of Singapore citizens when travelling abroad.
It was submitted that these were not facts before the district court and so could not be taken into consideration for the purposes of sentence. I had no difficulty rejecting this argument for confusing what are plainly general policy considerations with factual considerations.

Of particular concern to me were two arguments, first, that the appellant had only been driven to commit the offence she pleaded guilty to as a result of financial hardship and, second, that as she was the mother of two young children, undue hardship would be caused by the sentence.

I considered a number of references in support of the legitimacy of financial hardship in mitigation of sentence.
In R v Oakes, an unreported case of 1974, the UK Court of Appeal reduced from two years to 15 months the sentence imposed upon an appellant, a car salesman, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one of obtaining by deception. Apparently he had overstretched his financial resources in an attempt to regain his wife, who had left him. Having committed himself to debts he could not possibly repay, he kept back money paid to him on behalf of his principal, amounting to a total of £960. Boreham J said:

It was urged upon us that this man is going through a period of deep emotional stress and severe financial stringency. There is no doubt that this court can accept that. He is put before us as a man who

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372 cases
  • Idya Nurhazlyn bte Ahmad Khir v PP
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 11 November 2013 [54] . Abu Syeed Chowdhury v PP [2002] 1 SLR (R) 182; [2002] 1 SLR 301 (folld) Chew Im v PP (DC) (refd) Lai Oei Mui Jenny v PP [1993] 2 SLR (R) 406; [1993] 3 SLR 305 (distd) Lim Choon Kang v PP [1993] 3 SLR (R) 254; [1993] 3 SLR 927 (refd) Low Sze Sze v PP (DC) (refd) Luong Thi Trang Hoa......
  • R Yoganathan v Public Prosecutor and another appeal
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 13 September 1999
    ... ... The potential hardship which would be caused to the appellant`s mother and his fiancee as a result of his imprisonment term did not appear to be so exceptional as to warrant the imposition of a lighter sentence on the appellant ( Lai Oei Mui Jenny v PP [1993] 3 SLR 305 ), whilst the remaining mitigating factors brought up by counsel were outweighed by the aggravating circumstances present in this case ( Sim Gek Yong v PP [1995] 1 SLR 537 at 541). Thus, taking into account the relevant considerations, I enhanced the appellant`s ... ...
  • Public Prosecutor v Mohammed Liton Mohammed Syeed Mallik
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 31 October 2007
    ...the accused’s family will suffer if the accused is imprisoned for a substantial period of time: see, for example, Lai Oei Mui Jenny v PP [1993] 3 SLR 305 (at 308, [11]); PP v Perumal s/o Suppiah [2000] 3 SLR 308 (at [23]); and Ang Jwee Herng v PP [2001] 2 SLR 474 (at [78]). Accordingly, thi......
  • Public Prosecutor v NF
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 21 September 2006
    ...[1992] 1 SLR 361 (folld) Dinesh Singh Bhatia s/o Amarjeet Singh v PP [2005] 3 SLR (R) 1; [2005] 3 SLR 1 (folld) Lai Oei Mui Jenny v PP [1993] 2 SLR (R) 406; [1993] 3 SLR 305 (folld) Leong Mun Kwai v PP [1996] 1 SLR (R) 719; [1996] 2 SLR 338 (distd) MU v PP Criminal Appeal No 9 of 1999 (refd......
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2 books & journal articles
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2004, December 2004
    • 1 December 2004
    ...into account the peripheral consequences of the appellant”s conviction in assessing the appropriate sentence. In Lai Oei Mui Jenny v PP[1993] 3 SLR 305, the High Court had rejected the hardship caused to an accused”s family as a result of his conviction as a valid mitigating factor, save in......
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2003, December 2003
    • 1 December 2003
    ...gain or causes no financial loss to another is a legitimate mitigating factor, but carries very little weight: Lai Oei Mui Jenny v PP[1993] 3 SLR 305 and PP v Gurmit Singh[1999] 3 SLR 215. 11.133 In Rahman Pachan Pillai Prasana v PP[2003] SGHC 52, the High Court confirmed this principle by ......

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