Lye Wing Soon William v Public Prosecutor

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeAbdul Rahim B A Jalil
Judgment Date18 January 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGDC 18
Citation[2001] SGDC 18
Published date19 April 2005

Lye Wing Soon William ...appellant


Public Prosecutor ...respondent

Citation: DAC No 31644 of 1999
Jurisdiction: Singapore
Date: 2001:01:18
2000:11:10, 2000:11:01, 2000:10:27, 2000:10:20, 2000:10:19
Court: Subordinate Courts
Coram: Abdul Rahim Jalil, District Judge
Counsel: Leong Kwang Ian (Deputy Public Prosecutor) for the respondent
Mr K Sivaratnam (S. Ratnam & Associates) for the appellant


Grounds of Judgment

The accused claimed trial to the following charge:

DAC 31644/99

You are charged that you, on or about the 18th day of November 1998, at or about 11.00 pm, at Jurong Neighbourhood Police Post, Singapore, being employed in the capacity of a servant, to wit, a Police Corporal of the Singapore Police Force, did commit theft of 4 boxes of cigarette in the possession of the Singapore Police Force, you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 381 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

Agreed facts

2. The prosecution and the defence agreed to the following facts:

1. The Accused is William Lye Wing Soon. At the material time, he was a Corporal attached to Jurong Neighbourhood Police Post

2. On 18 Nov 1998, Corporal Chua Yue Ban and Vigilante Constable (Reservist) Ang Wei Chuan were performing anti-crime patrol along Tuas Crescent in the Tuas Industrial Estate at about 10.20 pm at night.

3. There, both officers saw what they believed were three Indonesians at a bus-stop. The three Indonesians fled upon sight of the officers leaving behind three bags of contraband cigarettes which were seized by the two officers.

4. These cigarettes were brought back to Jurong Neighbourhood Police Post (NPP) as exhibits at about 10.50 pm the same evening. At Jurong NPP, the cigarette were placed in the Interview Room.

5. Before the cigarettes could be counted, Corporal Chua Yue Ban (‘Corporal Chua’) left the Interview Room to answer a phone call from Division Operations Room (DOR).

Prosecution’s case - evidence of VC Ang Wei Chuan

3. The prosecution relied essentially on the evidence of Vigilante Constable Ang Wei Chuan (‘VC Ang’) to prove that the accused had committed the offence. VC Ang testified that on 18 November 1998, he was Corporal Chua’s partner on patrol. He said that the cigarettes were brought to the Interview Room of Jurong NPP. He added that before Corporal Chua left the Interview Room to answer the telephone call from Division Operations Room, Corporal Chua told him to keep an eye on the cigarettes.

4. However, VC Ang said that he could not remember as to what took place after Corporal Chua left the Interview Room. I did allow VC Ang to refresh his memory by referring to his police statement dated 15 December 1998. The whole statement was read over to him. Thereafter, paragraph 4 of the same statement was read to him again. That paragraph reads:

Back at Jurong NPP, the team had changed shift and I can tell so because the officer manning the Post are different officers. I and Cpl Chua carried the 3 bags into the interview room. On entering the Post, Sgt Colin Lee of the out-going team saw us carrying the bags and asked me and Cpl Chua what are the items carried. Cpl Chua briefed him and Sgt Tan Eng Yeow and Cpl William Lye about the case in the interview room. After briefing them, Cpl Chua was about to count the cigarette when DOR called him and he left the room to answer the call, leaving behind Sgt Colin Lee, Sgt Tan, Cpl William and me behind. Sgt Colin Lee asked me about the brand of the cigarette and I told him they looked like Marlboro. He took a look at the cigarette and spoke in Hokkien, "Gum le, Gum le" meaning it suit him and he told (sic) 3 boxes and left the interview. Sgt Tan and Cpl William were inside the room when Sgt Colin took the cigarette and left the room. I did not stopped him because Sgt Tan and Cpl William also did not stop him and furthermore I was just a reservist VC. I do not know what brand of cigarette Sgt Colin took and I just kept quiet about it. I do not know where Sgt Colin took the cigarette to. After Sgt Colin left the room, Cpl William also took 4 boxes of Kansas Brand of cigarette from the seized exhibits placed on the floor. He took the cigarette in the present of Sgt Tan and Sgt Tan did not stopped him.

5. VC Ang said that he could remember the events on being shown the statement and he confirmed what he had stated in the statement was the truth. He also said that he made the statement voluntarily. In view of what he had said, paragraph 4 of the statement would become his testimony and form part of the prosecution’s evidence. As the Chief Justice said in Yuen Chun Yi v Public Prosecutor [1997] 3 SLR 57 at p. 63:

When a party examining his own witness attempts to invoke s 161 Evidence Act to refresh the memory of that witness, the basic premise, apart from the conditions set out in s 161, is that his memory has faded, causing him to forget certain details about the evidence he intends to give. The witness is allowed to refresh his memory because a witness should not suffer from an unintended mistake, and may explain an inconsistency: Halliday v Hollgate 17 LT 18. Where he testifies to facts mentioned in the document referred to under s 161, provided that he accepts that the facts were correctly recorded, these facts become his testimony: s a162 Evidence Act.

6. For the sake of completeness, s 162 of the Evidence Act reads:

Testimony to facts stated in document mentioned in section 161

162. A witness may also testify to facts mentioned in any such document as is mentioned in section 161 although he has no specific recollection of the facts themselves, if he is sure that the facts were correctly recorded in the document.


A book-keeper may testify to facts recorded by him in books regularly kept in the course of business if he knows that the books were correctly kept, although he has forgotten the particular transactions entered.

7. Section 161 (1) of the same Act states that a witness may while under examination refresh his memory by referring to any writing made by himself at the time of the transaction concerning which he is questioned, or so soon afterwards that the court considers it likely that the transaction was at that time fresh in his memory.

Finding at end of prosecution’s case

8. From the contents of paragraph 4 (which had become VC Ang’s testimony) and the agreed facts, the prosecution had established that on the date, time and place stated in the charge, the accused, in his capacity as a servant, committed theft of four boxes of cigarettes in the possession of the Singapore Police Force. At the end of the case for the prosecution, I was satisfied...

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