Public Prosecutor v Boon Yu Kai John

JudgeWong Li Tien
Judgment Date18 February 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] SGMC 2
Citation[2004] SGMC 2
CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
Plaintiff CounselASP Lam Pang Choon
Defendant CounselOng Yin Ping
Published date10 May 2004

18 February 2004

Magistrate Wong Li Tein:

1 This is a case in which a series of phone calls were made by the Accused John Boon Yu Kai (“the accused”) to the police on 25 March 2003 stating that someone was trying to harm his mother, one Madam Tan. The accused was charged under s 45(b) of the Telecommunications Act (Cap 323) (‘the Act’) for transmitting to the police information which he knew to be false. The charge (‘P1’) reads:

You, John Boon Yu Kai M/40 years old, are charged that you, on the 25th day of March 2003, at or about 9.23am, at Block 117 Commonwealth Drive #01-717, Singapore, did transmit to one Sergeant Shew Syn Hui of Combined Operations Room, Police Headquarters, Singapore, by means of a telephone message to the effect that “Can you send your man to arrest the suspects driving dark green Corolla car SCE 9345? He want to murder this Mdm Tan think Blk 108 07-252 Commonwealth Crescent. Mdm Tan is wearing a yellow dress now. The suspect I is in the market now” which you knew to be false, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 45(b) of the Telecommunications Act, Chapter 323.

2 At the conclusion of the trial, I was not satisfied that the prosecution had proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt and I acquitted the accused on the charge for which he faced. The prosecution, being dissatisfied, appealed against my decision.

Agreed Facts

3 The agreed facts, as found in exhibit P2, are briefly that at 9.23am on 25 March 2003, the accused made a telephone call to the police by dialling “999” to inform them that someone was trying to murder one “Mdm Tan”. Following this phone call, the accused made three other calls to the police on the same morning to check on whether the police were coming. These calls were made at 9.38am, 9.58am and 10.30am.

4 As a result of the accused’s first phone call, the police arrived at the location and conducted a foot patrol of the area between 9.40am and 9.50am. However, nothing was found. The accused produced three notes to the police containing threats to his family allegedly deposited at his residence by unknown persons. He also produced two complaint letters against the Investigating Officer, one signed by himself and the other signed by his mother Mdm Tan Sun Nio.

The Prosecution’s Case

5 The prosecution called a total of four witnesses to the stand. The complainant Sgt Shew Syn Hui (“Sgt Shew”) took the stand first, followed by two police officers who received the subsequent messages from the accused, S/Sgt Jennifer Jelly Nah Joelle (“S/Sgt Jennifer”) and Sgt Tham Eng Hoe Valmond (“Sgt Tham”). The Prosecution also called the psychiatrist from Institute of Mental Health who examined the accused after his arrest, Dr Sim Kang (“Dr Sim”), to the stand.

Testimony of PW1 – Sgt Shew Syn Hui (“Sgt Shew”)

6 Sgt Shew, a police sergeant attached to the Police Radio Division of the Police Headquarters, testified that on the morning of 25 March 2003, she was on duty when she received the phone call from the accused at 9.23am.

7 According to Sgt Shew, she could not tell if the voice belonged to a male or female, but the caller sounded “quite excited” and that “yes, he sounded serious to me at that time”. She then went on to create an incident report so that the Clementi Police Division Headquarters could follow-up with necessary action and found that the call came from unit 01-717 of block 117 Commonwealth Drive.

8 Subsequently, after her colleagues from Clementi Police Headquarters got to the accused’s flat, they conducted a voice test whereby they got him to speak to her over the phone. She identified his voice as the same one which she had heard earlier.

Testimony of PW2 – S/Sgt Jennifer Jelly Nah Joelle (‘S/Sgt Jennifer’)

9 S/Sgt Jennifer was on duty as a Radio Division operator on the morning of 25 March 2003. She testified that she received a phone call at about 9.38am whereby the caller told her that the location to go to was block 117 commonwealth Drive. S/Sgt Jennifer told the caller that she would check the incident and traced the call to block 117 Commonwealth Drive, unit 01-717. She could not tell whether it was a male or female caller but when a caller tracing test was initiated later by the Clementi Police Division over the phone, she recognised the voice on the other end as the voice of the person who had called earlier.

Testimony of PW3 – Sgt Tham Eng Hoe Valmond (‘Sgt Tham’)

10 Sgt Tham is an operator in Radio Team Y with the Singapore Police Force. On 25 March 2003, he was on duty when at about 9.58am he received the phone call. At the same time, a pop-up message on his screen showed that it was a nuisance call. He checked through the radio system and found that a related previous call was made to the police and received by his colleague Sgt Shew. He asked the caller what the problem was and the caller explained the problem about someone wanting to kill Mdm Tan.

11 Sgt Tham testified that he could not tell if the voice belonged to a male or female but he managed to recognise the voice when the Investigating Officer conducted a test at the scene by having the accused speak to him over the phone.

Testimony of PW4 – Dr Sim Kang (‘Dr Sim’)

12 Dr Sim, Registrar of Woodbridge Hospital, examined the accused on several occasions after his arrest and provided the court with a medical report dated 8 April 2003 (exhibit “P8”).

13 In P8, Dr Sim stated that the accused has a history of mild mental retardation (IQ 58) and is suffering from a delusional disorder, characterised by firm, fixed delusions about being persecuted and harmed.

14 It was from Dr Sim’s report that the circumstances surrounding the accused’s phone calls was revealed to the Court. An ex-neighbour, one Mdm Wong, has been causing various problems to the accused’s family for the last ten years. Dr Sim stated in P8 that, according to the accused, he had gone to the market with his mother on the day in question at about 9.00am. His mother then told him that Mdm Wong and her gang had taken pictures of her and wanted to kill her. She asked him to call the police and he did.

15 Under cross-examination, Dr Sim confirmed his opinion that the accused did not know that the 999 calls which he made to the police were false, in the context of his psychiatric disorder. He came to understand the facts and circumstances leading to the arrest of the accused through the facts sheet given to him by the police.

The Close of the Prosecution’s case

16 At the close of the prosecution’s case, the prosecution submitted that a prima facie case has been made out on each element of the offence under s 45 (b) of the Act. The defence submitted that there was no case to answer because the prosecution has failed to prove the key ingredient of the charge, which is that the accused made the phone calls knowing the message to be false.

17 In considering the evidence, I was mindful of the fact that at this stage the evidence is be approached with minimal evaluation: Ng Theng Shuang v PP [1995] 2 SLR 36. I was not concerned with detailed analysis of the evidence. As for the circumstances surrounding the accused’s phone call given by Dr Sim in both exhibit P8 and his evidence in court, I was mainly concerned with what inferences, if any, could...

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