Public Prosecutor v BV

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeValerie Thean Pik Yuen
Judgment Date24 May 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] SGDC 126
Citation[2004] SGDC 126
Publication Date16 June 2004
Plaintiff CounselMr Tan Wee Soon (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Defendant CounselMr Jeffrey Soh (Jeffrey Soh and Co)

24 May 2004

District Judge Valerie Thean:

1 The accused, BV, was convicted after trial upon the following charge:

That you on 25 October 2003, at or about 5 pm, at the walkway of Blk 962 Jurong West Street 91, Singapore, did use criminal force on one A, female 17 years’ old, with intention to outrage her modesty, to wit, by squeezing her left breast with your hand, and you have thereby committed an offence publishable under s 354 of the Penal Code, Cap 224.

2 BV has appealed against his conviction. I furnish my grounds of decision accordingly.

Summary

3 The prosecution’s case was that while A was walking in the walkway outside the Best Deli bakery at Blk 962 Jurong West Street 91, BV walked towards her from the opposite direction, and squeezed her left breast with his hand. It was conceded by the defence that ’BV’s left hand came into contact with A’s left breast. ’BV’s defence was that of accident. At the material time, he was rushing through the walkway, and his left hand knocked into her breast as he walked past her.

Evidence adduced by the prosecution

Evidence of the complainant, A

4 Miss A was 17 years old at the time of the incident. On 25 October 2003, sometime after 5 pm, she and her brother were walking in the walkway outside Best Deli, a bakery. She was walking in front of her brother. When she first saw BV, he was walking towards her, with a black bag slung over his left shoulder, and his left hand clutching the strap of the bag against his chest. The walkway was not crowded at the time. She did not take much notice of him, as he was neatly dressed. She did notice him walking closer towards her. As he came towards her, she moved aside to give him room, but he kept coming closer. Eventually, she had no room to move because there was a pillar on her right, and her foot hit a table on her right. As he walked past, she felt her breast being squeezed. She did not see which hand BV used. She shouted “Oi!” but BV did not stop.

5. She then grabbed her brother and walked away, and telephoned home from her mobile telephone. After a brief exchange with her mother, her father came on the line. He told her to wait where she was for him. She went into the nearby optical shop to do so. Whilst waiting, she saw BV walk outside the cakeshop and go around the corner. Subsequently, her father arrived, and they walked around the area. Past Prime Supermarket, they spotted BV. B said “Excuse me, sir”, to which BV replied “no no no”. Her mother joined with “Just now you got touch my daughter this one?” pointing at A’s breast. Again, BV said “no no no”, and then ran off. B followed him, whilst A and C went to the Nanyang Extended Police Post (‘EPP’) to make a police report. Later, BV came back to the EPP with her father and some police officers. Identification was made and statements taken.

Evidence of the complainant’s brother, D

6 D is A’s 9 year old brother, who was with her on the walkway at the material time. When he first saw BV, he was walking behind his sister, and BV was walking towards them. The walkway was not crowded at the time. He saw BV get quite close to his sister, he saw his sister almost tripping, and then he heard his sister shout. BV then walked quickly away from his sister. Thereafter he was pulled away by his sister into an optical shop, from which she called their parents. After their father arrived, he recalled that they managed to find BV, but he could not recall what happened thereafter.

Evidence of the complainant’s father, B

7 On the evening of 25 October 2003 around 5.50pm, B was at home with C when A telephoned. He heard C ask her where she was and what had occurred. As there was no response from his wife, he took the telephone from his wife, and asked A what the matter was. A replied that a male Indian had squeezed her breast. He asked where she was and she said she was at the optical shop. He told her to wait. When he arrived at the shop, about 10 minutes later, he saw that A looked pale and afraid, and was crying. They walked around the area but were unable to find the man. C then met up with them, and they decided to lodge a police report. Enroute to the EPP, the children pointed out BV. B went up to him, saying “Excuse me, sir” and asked him in Malay whether he had squeezed A’s breast. C spoke in English to the same effect. BV said “no no sorry” and ran off.

8 B chased after BV and saw that BV went into City Harvest Church. B attempted to follow him in but was stopped by the security guard, who did not allow him to enter. Although he told the guard that the man who molested his daughter was within the church, the guard insisted that there were no Indian men inside the church. He went to Nanyang EPP to get help, and then went back to the church to wait for assigned police officers to arrive. After the officers arrived, he went up to the fourth level of the church with his wife and the police officers. There, BV was crying and walking back and forth. He said “sorry uncle, sorry auntie”. B was informed by a church member that BV said B threatened to assault BV earlier. The officers brought BV down and they went thereafter to the Nanyang EPP.

Evidence of the complainant’s mother, C

9 C related that after they received the distressed call from A that evening, B rushed to the optical shop first. C changed, locked up the apartment and then went to meet them. When they met in front of the clinic, the rest had been unable to find the man, so she suggested that they make a police report. Whilst walking past Prime Supermarket, the children pointed BV out. B went up to him and said: “Excuse me sir”. She, too, asked BV whether he had squeezed her daughter’s breast. She recalled that A also said that BV squeezed her breast. BV looked shocked and afraid and said “no no”, and “no, sister” and fled. When he disappeared, C also could not find B. She telephoned B on the mobile telephone, and was told to wait at the police post for him. Shortly after, B met her at the post, and they went back to City Harvest Church. B first went up to the fourth level with a church member, but they were not able to locate BV and came down again. After SSgt Tan and Corporal Yeow arrived, they went up to the fifth level. There, they saw BV, who was walking back and forth and crying. A church member told them that B had attempted to assault BV, but she replied that they did not know the true version of events. They proceeded downstairs in the lift. At this time, BV said to them, “sorry uncle, sorry auntie”.

Evidence of the police officers involved

10 Corporal Lee Chee Keong was at the Nanyang EPP when A first went there. His evidence was that she looked very distressed and sad. He dispatched SS Tan and SC Corporal Yeow to City Harvest Church, and asked A to sit down. He also made an entry on the station diary.

11 Staff Sergeant Alan Tan was notified by the Nanyang EPP on 25 October 2003 whilst on Fast Car Response Duty that the subject of an outrage of modesty case was inside the City Harvest Church. His partner, SC Corporal Yeow, and he duly went to the City Harvest Church. There, B alerted them that the man who molested his daughter was inside the church. When they went in, they were told by the management that the police could not enter, as the church was private property. He waited outside whilst the CISCO guard and a person from the church escorted B inside. After 5-10 minutes, they came out, with BV, who, in SSgt Tan’s opinion, “looked panicked”. SSgt Tan asked him what he was doing at Block 962 and was told that he was looking for directions to City Harvest Church. When SS Tan looked at the permit given to him, however, he noticed that BV had been in Singapore for a year, and lived in a neighbouring estate. He questioned BV as to why he did not know the way but BV did not answer. So he decided to take BV to Nanyang EPP. BV was taken to Nanyang EPP, and sat on a bench outside with a friend. He noticed that BV was crying.

12 Special Constable Corporal Daniel Yeow guarded BV while the latter sat with his friend outside the EPP. He elaborated on ’BV’s behaviour. His evidence was that BV was crying. At one point, BV made a sudden movement, reaching for his sling bag at his feet, as if he intended to leave the scene. This startled SC Corporal Yeow. However, he observed that ’BV’s friend spoke to him, and BV sat back into his chair. He did not make any similar movements again thereafter.

13 BV was placed under arrest later by SSgt Tan and SC Corporal Yeow, after A’s statement had been taken and a positive identification made by her.

14 Senior Staff Sergeant Chay Mun Wai was assigned as the initial investigating officer. He gave evidence that he interviewed the complainant and drew up the charge. The charge initially drawn up was the same as that proffered at trial save that the original charge stated that BV used his left hand. SSSgt Chay explained that he inserted the work “left” as that was his inference from the manner in which the complainant described the molest to him. In the course of interviewing BV, on 26 October 2003, he also took two photographs (P12 and P13) of how BV said he was holding his sling bag at the time of the incident. In both photographs, BV is holding his bag strap with his left hand at waist level.

Evidence adduced by the defence

BV

15 BV was at the material time a church worker who had come from India to study theology at City Harvest Church. He testified that on 25 October 2003, around 5.45 pm, he was outside Best Deli on the walkway. At this time, the walkway was very crowded. He was in a hurry as he wanted to reach the foodcourt where a friend was waiting for him. They were to go to church thereafter to meet others. He saw A and D approaching. He tried to avoid them, but his left hand, which was holding the strap of his sling bag, accidentally touched A’s breast. He was pre-occupied with his thoughts at the time. Subsequently, he returned to the walkway...

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