PP v Holman, Benjamin John

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeAedit Abdullah J
Judgment Date02 November 2018
Date02 November 2018
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 9143 of 2018/01

[2018] SGHC 237

High Court

Aedit Abdullah J

Magistrate's Appeal No 9143 of 2018/01

Public Prosecutor
and
Holman, Benjamin John

Han Ming Kuang and Li Yihong (Attorney-General's Chambers) for the appellant;

Vinit Chhabra (Vinit Chhabra Law Corporation) for the respondent.

Case(s) referred to

PP v Alamgir Hossain Magistrate's Appeal No 7 of 2009 (refd)

PP v Goh Jun Hao Jeremy [2018] SGHC 68 (refd)

PP v Ramasamy s/o T Ramasamy Magistrate's Appeal No 135 of 2008 (refd)

PP v Sheikh Manik District Arrest Case No 931147 of 2014 (refd)

PP v Xu Maolin District Arrest Case No 922792 of 2014 (refd)

PP v Yeo Ek Boon Jeffrey [2018] 3 SLR 1080 (refd)

Legislation referred to

Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) s 323 (consd); s 267B

Criminal Procedure and Sentencing — Sentencing — Preservation of public order — Public transport system

Criminal Procedure and Sentencing — Sentencing — Use of precedents of analogous offences

Criminal Procedure and Sentencing — Sentencing — Voluntarily causing hurt against commuter on Mass Rapid Transit platform during evening rush hour — Section 323 Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed)

Facts

On 3 February 2017, around 6.30pm, the victim and the offender were walking along the same platform at the Raffles Place Mass Rapid Transit (“MRT”) station in opposite directions. As the two crossed paths, the victim's left shoulder hit against the offender's left shoulder. The victim turned to look at the offender before continuing his walk towards the end of the station. The offender strode after the victim. Upon coming into close proximity with the victim, the offender pushed the victim once on the chest. The two soon came to blows. At some point during the exchange, the victim started to crouch and was almost kneeling on the ground. The offender continued to punch the victim multiple times on the face. There were many other commuters at the station platform at this time. Both parties were eventually separated by passers-by. The entire scuffle lasted for about a minute or two. As it transpired the offender had been consuming alcohol with his colleagues within a few hours before the incident. The victim was brought to Singapore General Hospital and examined on the same day. The most egregious injury suffered was a nasal bone fracture. He was given seven days' medical leave and an outpatient appointment with the Department of Plastic Surgery.

In the court below, the offender pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt, an offence punishable under s 323 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) (“Penal Code”), and was sentenced to four weeks' imprisonment. The Prosecution appealed and sought a sentence of eight months' imprisonment.

Held, allowing the appeal and enhancing the sentence:

(1) The sentence imposed below did not sufficiently reflect the breach of public order. The district judge was misdirected in requiring evidence of public disquiet. The present case engaged public order concerns: at [20].

(2) There was a need to protect public order so as to ensure that society could go about its affairs with as little disruption as possible, and specifically a specific need to preserve public order in public transport areas: at [20] and [21].

(3) A commuter simpliciter did not belong to a vulnerable class of victims. To classify commuters as vulnerable victims robbed the notion of vulnerability of any meaning: at [23].

(4) A sentence had to be calibrated within the confines of the charge preferred. This was because the prescribed sentencing range for each offence might be different. Further, each offence served its own objectives though these objectives might overlap: at [35].

(5) It was acceptable to seek guidance from cases concerning analogous offences, particularly when faced with a novel factual scenario not previously considered under a certain charge. But cases concerning analogous offences merely served as a guide: at [36].

(6) Overall, the sentence of eight months' imprisonment proposed by the Prosecution (and the range of sentences for offences in the nature of the present) set the standard too high. Sufficient deterrence would be meted out by a sentence in the range of a few months for offences of the present nature. The circumstances in such offences did not warrant a sentence ranging close to a year of imprisonment: at [42].

(7) The most egregious harm caused to the victim in the present case was the nasal fracture. The victim was given seven days of medical leave for the totality of the injuries suffered. While the victim crouched at some point during the exchange of blows, it was not to the extent that he collapsed to the ground. There were also certain mitigating factors that operated in the offender's favour. At the same time, the offence took place on an MRT platform at rush hour and did cause a degree of disruption. The offender was intoxicated at the time of the offence and that intoxication would likely have contributed in some way to his unruly behaviour. In the round, a sentence of two months' imprisonment was appropriate: at [43].

2 November 2018

Aedit Abdullah J:

Introduction

1 In the court below, the respondent pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt, an offence punishable under s 323 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) (“Penal Code”), and was sentenced to four weeks' imprisonment. The Prosecution appealed and sought a sentence of eight months' imprisonment before me. Having considered the precedents and the circumstances of the case, I allowed the appeal and substituted the original sentence with an imprisonment term of two months.

Facts

2 The district judge's grounds of decision can be found at PP v Holman Benjamin John[2018] SGDC 162 (“the GD”).

3 On 3 February 2017, around 6.30pm, the victim and respondent were walking along the same platform at the Raffles Place Mass Rapid Transit (“MRT”) station in opposite directions. The respondent had his head down and was looking at his phone. As the two crossed paths, the victim's left shoulder hit against the respondent's left shoulder. The victim then turned to look at the respondent before continuing his walk towards the end of the station. Noticing that the victim had looked at him, the respondent shouted at the victim. The victim turned and shouted in response. An altercation soon ensued between the two. This drew the attention of commuters on the platform.

4 The victim eventually disengaged and walked to the end of the station platform. The respondent, however, strode after the victim. Upon coming into close proximity with the victim, the respondent pushed the victim once on the chest. This prompted the victim to push the respondent away. The victim then pointed his finger at the respondent and told the respondent to back off. The respondent suddenly reached out and slapped the victim once on the right cheek. The victim pushed the respondent away for the second time and told the latter to back off. The respondent then raised both his fists, approached the victim and landed two blows to the victim's...

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6 cases
  • Low Song Chye v Public Prosecutor and another appeal
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • June 6, 2019
    ...four months’ imprisonment. This was apparently derived through a comparison with the case of Public Prosecutor v Holman, Benjamin John [2018] SGHC 237 (“Holman Benjamin John”). In Holman Benjamin John, a first-time offender who pleaded guilty to a s 323 charge was sentenced to two months’ i......
  • Public Prosecutor v Chua Kok Thye
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • June 20, 2019
    ...ordinarily be held against him during sentencing: see Wong Hoi Len v PP [2008] SGHC 146 18 and more recently PP v Holman, Benjamin John [2018] SGHC 23719 and PP v Satesh s/o Navarlan [2019] SGHC 119.20 Reverting to the present case, it is hard to see how the Accused exercised any restraint ......
  • Public Prosecutor v Saalai Muhammed Faizil Bin Abdul Mutalib
    • Singapore
    • Magistrates' Court (Singapore)
    • November 9, 2021
    ...injuries sustained by the victim in Low Song Chye and the simple nasal fracture that the victim suffered in PP v Holman Benjamin John [2019] 3 SLR 824 (see [89]). The comminuted right distal humerus fracture suffered by the victim in the present case was clearly significantly more serious t......
  • Public Prosecutor v Tristan Koh Boon Hui
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • May 27, 2019
    ...held that this is an aggravating factor: see Wong Hoi Len v PP [2008] SGHC 14612 and (more recently) PP v Holman, Benjamin John [2018] SGHC 237.13 The Accused’s actions as reflected in the two TiC charges, i.e. using expletives against both WSSgt Lim and Sgt Tan, also served to enhance his ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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