Public Prosecutor v AYW (a minor)

CourtJuvenile Court (Singapore)
JudgeLim Keng Yeow
Judgment Date10 April 2012
Neutral Citation[2012] SGJC 1
Citation[2012] SGJC 1
Publication Date11 April 2012
Docket NumberMA 071/2012/01
Plaintiff CounselSSI Abdul Razak
Defendant CounselThe Juvenile in person
District Judge Lim Keng Yeow: Background Facts

This case deals with a probationer’s non-compliance with probation requirements, which resulted in breach action being taken by a probation officer.

AYW (hereafter “the subject”) pleaded guilty as a juvenile offender to a charge of unlawful assembly under s 143 Penal Code. On 14 Jun 2011, he was placed on 21 months’ probation with the requirement, inter alia, to reside in Boys’ Town for 16 months, to be home or within Boys’ Town from 9pm to 6am daily, and to perform 80 hours of community service.

On 29 Dec 2011, the Probation Officer (“PO”) took breach action, citing that while on home leave from Boys’ Town, the subject has stayed away from home a second time. Since he did not present himself in court that day, a warrant had to be issued for his arrest.

Three months later, the subject was arrested and produced in court. A Progress Report (“PR”) was called for and the matter was next mentioned on 27 Mar 2012. After considering the PR, I revoked the probation order and ordered for him, then 16 years and 9 months, to be sent to a juvenile rehabilitation centre, Singapore Boys’ Home, for 15 months, under s 44(5)(a) read with s 44(1)(i) of the Children and Young Persons Act (“CYPA”, Cap 38). An appeal has been filed against this order.

Key Questions

It is important to note that breach action arose out of breach of probation requirements rather than because of a fresh offence. The fundamental question is not how the subject should be punished for his non-compliance. Rather, it is whether probation is still an appropriate means to support progress, or would the subject’s failure to comply indicate that a different regime is necessary.

To answer that question, several considerations need to be made: Whether the breach was serious and whether there were acceptable reasons for it; Whether the probationer’s overall response to probation still indicates that continuation of probation is possible; Whether there are other relevant changes in circumstances following breach action which favour the continuation of probation. I now apply these considerations to the facts of this case.

Nature of Non-compliance

The purpose of probation, especially insofar as juveniles are concerned, is to place an offender under a sense of structure and discipline so as to facilitate and spur change. Reduced to its core irreducible minimum, probation means supervision and accountability, enforced through...

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