Public Prosecutor v Chai Meng Teck

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeTan Jen Tse
Judgment Date11 April 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] SGMC 16
Citation[2019] SGMC 16
Docket NumberMAC 909628-2015 & Others
Published date11 December 2019
Plaintiff CounselDPPs Yvonne Poon & Charlene Tay Chia
Defendant CounselMelanie Ho & Tang Shangwei, Wong Partnership LLP
Hearing Date25 April 2018,06 October 2016,25 May 2017,08 June 2016,08 March 2017,10 November 2017,02 March 2017,28 November 2016,29 November 2016,03 March 2017,07 June 2016,23 February 2018,06 June 2016,10 June 2016,05 October 2016,22 September 2016,30 June 2017,31 August 2018,11 June 2018,30 November 2016,07 March 2017,01 March 2017,09 June 2016
District Judge Tan Jen Tse: INTRODUCTION

The accused Chai Meng Teck (aged 50 years old at the time of conviction), was at the material time, a school counsellor at [redacted] Secondary School (“the school”). He was charged with eight counts of using criminal force to outrage the modesty of three male students, namely, V1, V2 and V3. All the charges were alleged to have been committed at the accused’s counselling room at the school.

At the end of trial, the accused was convicted on four counts of using criminal force to outrage the modesty of V1 (one count), V2 (two counts) and V3 (one count), punishable under s 354(1) of the Penal Code (“PC”). He was also convicted on one count of attempting to use criminal force to outrage the modesty of V2, punishable under s 354(1) PC read with s 511 thereof. A summary of the charges and sentence passed is as follows:-

MAC No. Brief particulars Sentence
909628-2015 (1st charge) s 354 PC in August 2013 … did use criminal force against V1 then about 15 years old (D.O.B: 05/09/1997), by pulling down his pants and touching his private parts from inside his underwear 12 months’ imprisonment and 3 strokes of the cane (consecutive)
909629-2015 (2nd charge) s 354 PC sometime in 2011… did use criminal force against V2 then about 15 years old (D.O.B: 11/03/1997), by asking V2 if he had masturbated before, after which you pulled down his shorts and underwear and looked at his penis 5 months’ imprisonment (concurrent)
909630-2015 (3rd charge) s 354 PC sometime in 2012…did use criminal force against V2 then about 15 years old, by touching V2’s penis through his shorts 8 months’ imprisonment (consecutive)
909631-2015 (4th amended charge) s 354 r/w s 511 PC sometime in January 2012 to June 2012… attempted to use criminal force against V2 then about 15 years old by attempting to touch his penis through his shorts 5 months’ imprisonment (concurrent)
909635-2015 (8th charge) S 354 PC sometime in September 2013, did use criminal force against V3 then 16 years old (D.O.B: 27/05/1997), by stroking his penis from inside his shorts and over his underwear, before pulling down his shorts and underwear and stroking his penis and scrotum 12 months’ imprisonment and 3 strokes of the cane (consecutive)

In total, the accused was sentenced to 32 months’ imprisonment and 6 strokes of the cane. Pursuant to s 325(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”), caning could not be inflicted as the accused was over 50 years of age. A further 12 weeks’ imprisonment was therefore imposed in-lieu of the 6 strokes of the cane pursuant to s 325(2) of the CPC.

The accused has appealed against conviction and sentence, while the prosecution has appealed against sentence. The accused has been released on bail pending appeal.

As for the three remaining charges, the prosecution withdrew MAC 909632-2015 (5th charge) (which related to V2) at the close of the prosecution’s case as V2 did not provide any evidence on this charge. At the end of trial, the accused was granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal for MAC 909633-2015 (6th amended charge) and MAC 909634-2015 (7th amended charge) (both of which related to V3) as the prosecution had not discharged its burden of proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. There has been no appeal by the prosecution against the orders of acquittal.


The accused was a counsellor at the school from 2009 to 2013. V2 and V3 had been referred to him for counselling for behavioural problems. He was never V1’s counsellor as V1 was not at the material time in need of counselling.

According to his principal Mrs Choi Mok Sang (PW7) (“Mrs Choi”), the accused was a very committed officer and a very passionate counsellor. He had put in place processes and procedures for at-risk students. He was analytical, innovative and had added value to the whole school community. Colleagues would look to him for many issues.1

The accused was well-respected and well-liked by the students too. According to Mrs Choi, he was very approachable and visible. Students would go to him when they needed help and he would be there for them. He cared a lot for the students, especially those who were under him, and he would go the extra mile for them.2

The prosecution’s case was that sometime around 16 October 2013, while the complainants were near a restaurant at East Coast Road called Astons (“Astons”) where they worked, the topic of whether the accused had touched them inappropriately arose in conversation. Each of the complainants stated that he had done so. V1 and V3 were reluctant to take the matter any further. However, the next day, V2 approached a teacher named Mrs Candy Chua and informed her that the accused had molested him.

Mrs Choi testified that on 17 October 2013 at about 5 p.m., Mrs Candy Chua, the art teacher brought V2 and V3 to her office and said that they had something to report against the accused. Together with the vice-principal, Mrs Choi proceeded to interview V2 and V3 separately. She impressed upon them the need to tell the truth.3

When Mrs Choi learnt of the allegations of molest against the accused involving the three complainants, she felt a need to act. This was because in July 2013, another student, G had similarly reported that the accused had molested him. In that case, the accused was given the benefit of the doubt. Mrs Choi thus reported the matter to her superintendent at around 6.30 p.m.. She also called the parents of the complainants and advised them to lodge police reports. She did not speak to the accused about the case.4

The next morning (18 October 2013), V1, V2 and V3 proceeded separately to make police reports against the accused.5 SSG Syed Muhd Isa Omar Alhabshee (PW1) (“SSG Isa”), the duty officer who was attached to the Violence Against Persons Investigation Team of Bedok Police Division, was assigned to go to the school with SSI Joyce Jaden Loo (PW2) (“SSI Loo”). At the school, SSG Isa interviewed the accused at the principal’s office and thereafter placed him under arrest.6 During the course of 18 and 19 October 2013, SSG Isa recorded three statements from the accused, the admissibility of which was challenged.

V2 and V3 were assessed by Dr Parvarthy Parthy (PW4) (“Dr Pavarthy”), a Senior Consultant, Child Guidance Clinic, Institute of Mental Health (“IMH”) to determine if they were fit to testify in court. Her reports on V2 and V3 were marked as Exhibits P10 and P9 respectively. As both of them were able to give accounts of what had happened, understand the severity of their actions and the consequences of giving false evidence, she found them fit to testify. V1 declined to undergo psychiatric assessment by her and no report was put up on him.

The accused denied committing any of the offences. To support his case, he engaged Dr Wong Sze Tai (DW5) (“Dr Wong”), a Senior Consultant, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist in his own private clinic. His report is marked as Exhibit D36.


Prior to the commencement of trial, the prosecution applied for all the eight charges relating to the three complainants to proceed on a joint trial pursuant to s 133 of the CPC. This section provides:-

Joining of similar offences

When a person is accused of 2 of more offences, he may be charged and tried at one trial for any number of offences if the offences form or are a part of a series of offences of the same or a similar character. Offences were of the same or a similar character

In Reg v Ludlow [1971] 1 AC 29, the House of Lords considered Rule 3 of Schedule 1 of the Indictments Act 1915, which has similarities to s 133 of the CPC. Rule 3 provided:-

Charges for any offences whether felonies of misdemeanours may be joined in the same indictment if those charges are founded on the same facts or form or are a part of a series of offences of the same or of a similar character.

In considering the English rule, Lord Pearson, delivering the judgment of the House of Lords, stated at page 40:-7

Another point dealt within the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the Kray case is relevant to the present case also. They said [1969] 3 W.L.R. 831, 836 – 836: It is not desirable in the view of this court, that rule 3 should be given an unduly restricted meaning, since any risk of injustice can be avoided by the exercise of the judge’s discretion to sever the indictment. All that is necessary to satisfy the rule is that the offences should exhibit such similar features as to establish a prima facie case that they can be properly and conveniently tried together. (emphasis added)

That last sentence is not a construction of a rule, but I think it is helpful practical advice for those applying the rule.

In the present case, there was commonality in place, time, complainants and modus operandi. It was alleged that the accused had committed all the offences in his counselling room against teenage male students, using his position to molest them. The prosecution also indicated that it was relying on similar fact evidence to prove the charges. In my view, there was a sufficient nexus for all charges to be tried jointly as the alleged offences formed or were part of a series of offences of the same or a similar character within the meaning of s 133 of the CPC. The alleged offences exhibited such similar features that there was a prima facie case that they should be conveniently tried together. A joint trial of all the charges would therefore be appropriate, provided that no prejudice would be caused to the accused.

No prejudice caused to the accused

In Yong Yow Chee v Public Prosecutor [1997] 3 SLR (R) 243, Kathigesu, JA delivering the judgment of the Court of Appeal, held that if a joint trial were to be conducted, it was of utmost importance that no...

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