Public Prosecutor v AN

CourtJuvenile Court (Singapore)
JudgeMay Lucia Mesenas
Judgment Date13 January 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] SGJC 1
Citation[2004] SGJC 1
Published date12 April 2004
Plaintiff CounselAppellant in person
Defendant CounselInspector Zetty

Magistrate May Mesenas:

1 On 15 December 2003, the above male juvenile, aged 13 years and 4 months, pleaded guilty in the Juvenile Court to two charges of rioting and theft respectively. The charges are set out below:

Charge – Exhibit “P1”

”You, AN, (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Juvenile’), male/13 years old, are charged that you, on or about the 18th of October 2003, at about 5.45pm, at the basketball court of Blk 7 Marsiling Drive, Singapore, together with Sharizal Zainal, m/16 yrs, Imadysafrein Bin Effendi, m/16 yrs, A, m/15 yrs, B, m/15 yrs, C, m/13 yrs, D, m/12 yrs, E, m/13 yrs, F, m/13 yrs and G, m/13 yrs, were members of an unlawful assembly whose common object was to cause hurt to H, m/14 yrs and I, m/15 yrs, and in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, one or more of you had used violence, to wit, by fisting and kicking them, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 147 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.”

Charge – Exhibit “P2”

“You, AN, (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Juvenile’), male/13 years old, are charged that you, on 18th of October 2003, at or about 5.45pm, at the basketball court of Blk 11 Marsiling Crescent, Singapore, together with G, m/13 yrs, A, m/15 yrs, E, m/13 yrs, C, m/13 yrs, Sharizal Zainal, m/16 yrs, F, m/13 yrs, Imadysafrein Bin Effendi, m/16 yrs, D, m/12 yrs, B, m/15 yrs and J, m/14 yrs, in furtherance of the common intention of you all, did commit theft of a Nokia 3310 mobile phone valued at about ninety-three dollars ($93/-), in the possession of one H, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 379 read with section 34 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.”

2 The Juvenile admitted to the Statement of Facts (Exhibit ‘A’) pertaining to both charges, without qualification. The salient points are as follows:

(a) On 18 October 2003 at about 4:30pm, the juvenile and his accomplices met up at Blk 204 Marsiling Drive. While they were there, one of the accomplices, namely Sharizal Zainal (herinafter referred as 'Sharizal') suggested that they look for people to assault as well as steal from them. The juvenile and his accomplices agreed to this plan.

(b) On the same day, at about 5.45pm, the juvenile and his accomplices spotted the two victims, namely, H and I aged, 14 and 15 years respectively at the basketball court of Blk 7 Marsiling Drive. Sharizal approached them and asked if they belonged to a secret society, to which the victims denied.

(c) Thereafter, the Juvenile started to throw punches and kicks at the victims, followed by four of the other co-accuseds, whilst the remaining 5 accomplices stood round the vicinity.

(d) While the two victims were being assaulted, Sharizal also kicked H, which caused the latter’s handphone (valued at $93) to fall out of his trouser pocket where he kept his handphone. Thereafter, Sharizal kicked the handphone to one of the accomplices, namely, C, and told him to pick it up. Subsequently, all of them fled from the place.

(e) One of the co- accused, B, sold the stolen handphone for $20 on the same day. The proceeds of the said sale were then spent on food and cigarettes, by the Juvenile and the accomplices. The police managed to recover the stolen handphone subsequently.

(f) The two victims lodged a police report at the Bukit Panjang NPC at 7.16pm on the same day. They sustained bruises on their face and hands. However, no medical attention was sought.

3 Accordingly, the Juvenile was found guilty of both charges on 15 December 2003. In mitigation, the Juvenile stated that he was sorry and that he would not commit the offence again. His mother stated that she would take care of the Juvenile and hopes that he would change his behaviour. She claimed that he was of good behaviour and followed her instructions. As the parents run a foodstall, the Juvenile and his brother, D, helped out at the stall during the December school holidays. The Juvenile’s father said that he would take care of his son and assured the Court that his son would not repeat his mistake again. The matter was adjourned to 13 January 2004 for the Probation Report on the Juvenile to be prepared.

Probation Report

4 Ms Rodziah Ahmad, the Probation Officer from Probation Services Branch, Ministry of Community Development and Sports (MCDS), assessed that the Juvenile was not suitable for Probation, having considered the Juvenile's following risk factors as well as needs:

(a) The ineffective supervision rendered by the Juvenile’s parents due to their inconsistent parenting styles and work commitments;

(b) The Juvenile's conduct in school;

(c) The Juvenile’s association with negative peers;

(d) The Juvenile’s conduct pending the dispositional order.

The Court’s Decision

5 Section 28 of the Children and Young Persons Act Cap 38 (CYPA) enjoins every court dealing with persons under the age of 16 to “have regard to the welfare of the child or young person” and to take proper steps to remove such persons from his undesirable surroundings as well as secure proper provision for his education and training.

6 Unlike the adult courts, the Juvenile Court, in deciding the appropriate “sentence” to be made, does more than impose the dispositional order to commensurate with the gravity of the offence. It must be emphasised that the basic premise upon which the Juvenile Court decides, is how the young offender can be reformed and be re-intergrated back into society. For a juvenile’s rehabilitation to be effective, the Juvenile Court has to be acutely aware of the individual strengths and limitations of the young offender.

7 In recognising that there needs to be a balance between public protection and personal accountability on the one hand, and the legislative concern for the welfare of the young offender, a multi-prong approach has to be taken in dealing with the complexities of juvenile crime. More importantly, effective family support and control are also necessary to help keep our juveniles out of crime and equip them to lead a law-abiding life.

8 It must also be noted that in considering the suitability of any juvenile for probation, the Court has to weigh the risk of further offending against the undoubted benefit of community-based rehabilitation.

9 Bearing in mind the objectives of restorative and rehabilitative justice in dealing with juvenile crime, the Panel of Advisers and this Court explored the suitability of committing the Juvenile to the care of his parents, with outside supervision by the probation officer. In view of the recent amendments to the CYPA, we also considered other new options available under section 44(1) CYPA, for example, of placing the Juvenile in a Place of Detention (for a period of up to 3 months) followed by Probation at home or with the condition of residing in an approved institution[1] amongst others. Institutionalisation in an Approved School (between two to three years) was also considered.

10 This Court was mindful that the Juvenile is a first offender and also the fact that his parents are willing to supervise the Juvenile at home.

11 There are however risk factors which are a cause for concern and would hinder the Juvenile’s effective rehabilitation. Having considered all the facts and circumstances, the Court was of the view that probation is not suitable for the reasons as stated below.

Ineffective Parental Control

12 The Court took into account the fact that the parents, although concerned for the Juvenile, were however, lax in supervising and disciplining him. The father, was noted to be an 'inconsistent disciplinarian' in that whilst he practice corporal punishment occasionally, he was also lax in supervising the Juvenile. The mother was assessed to be permissive and doting towards the Juvenile, to the point of even withholding information from the Probation Officer during the interviews, (for example, the Juvenile's mother was reluctant to reveal information on the Juvenile's misbehaviours). The father on the other hand, was observed to be eager to reveal the Juvenile's misbehaviours. Such inconsistent account of events from the parent, would make it difficult for the Probation Officer to verify if the Juvenile was adhering to the conditions under the home probation order had such an order been made.

13 In addition, due to the long working hours of both parents (ie from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days per week), who run a foodstall, the Juvenile and his younger sibling, namely, D, aged 12 years old, were very much left on their own, without adequate adult supervision. It is pertinent to note that D[2] is also one of the accomplices in the present offences for which the Juvenile has been found guilty. Even after the Juvenile had committed the present offences (that is, in October 2003), the parents did not step up supervision on the Juvenile, and neither did they curb his undesirable activities, as the latter ran away from home on two occasions after that, in November and December 2003. On the second occasion, the Juvenile had run away from home together with D for six days. In fact, the Juvenile wanted to enjoy himself before he faced the consequences of possible institutionalisation.

14 The Juvenile’s activities were also not closely monitored by his parents, in that they were not aware of his association with the gangs, whom he mixed around with on a daily basis. The Juvenile and his peers would be engaged in unconstructive activities, like loitering at the shopping mall, namely Causeway Point and Civic Centre or play arcade games. On other occasions, he and his accomplices would be harrassing and intimidating other youths in the neighbourhood vicinity. Neither are his parents aware of where he is when he does not come home over the weekends. His parents had, in fact, assumed that the Juvenile and D were staying in their paternal uncle’s house near Blk 204 Marsiling, when in actual fact, these boys were not. His parents also claimed that they were not aware of the Juvenile’s smoking...

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