Public Prosecutor v Choy Kok Meng

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeTerence Chua Seng Leng
Judgment Date12 April 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] SGMC 11
Citation[2003] SGMC 11
Published date01 October 2003
Plaintiff CounselChandra Mohan K Nair (M/S Tan Rajah & Cheah)
Defendant CounselBenjamin Yim (Attorney-General's Chambers)

1 The Appellant faced a total of five charges under Section 323 read with Section 73(2) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224. The charges all dealt with various alleged assaults on one Sri Makanah, a domestic maid, taking place on 6 August 2001. The first two charges dealt with assaults that took place at the Appellant’s home that morning, and the last three dealt with assaults that took place at the Appellant’s work premises during the course of the afternoon.

2 The Appellant claimed trial to the charges. At the end of the trial, and upon hearing submissions from both Prosecution and Defence, the Appellant was convicted on all the charges.

The Prosecution Case

3 The Prosecution called fourteen witnesses. They were as follows:

PW1 – Staff Sergeant Mohd Rashid Bin Musa

PW2 – Sergeant Paarey s/o Vairappan

PW3 – Marina Muhammad

PW4 – Doctor Quek Lit Sin

PW5 – Sergeant Goh Say Keat

PW6 – Sergeant Kamaruzaman

PW7 – Tay Joo Suah

PW8 – Somnath Yadow

PW9 – Sri Makanah

PW10 – Station Inspector Rajandran Balasundran

PW11 – Siti Zaharah

PW12 – Lee Gek Kwee

PW13 – Sergeant Richard Toh

PW14 – Staff Sergeant Ghazali

4 All witnesses gave evidence from the witness box or by way of conditioned statements.

PW1 to PW3’s evidence

5 The first three witnesses were police photographers and gave their evidence by way of conditioned statements to admit the various photographs taken by the police and the accompanying negatives (Exhibits P6 to P40). There was minimal cross-examination and the exhibits were admitted without any objections.

PW4’s evidence

6 Dr Quek Lit Sin, at the time of the trial holding the appointment of Registrar at National University Hospital, gave evidence as to the injuries sustained by the victim. He gave evidence that he was given a medical examination form (Exhibit P41) by the police to record down details of the medical examination given to one Sri Makanah. The examination was done at the Emergency Deparment of Changi General Hospital on 7 August 2001 at 1.00 am.

7 Dr Quek stated that the victim was brought to the consultation room with the form Exhibit P41 and that he conducted a physical examination on her. During the 10-minute examination, Dr Quek testified that the victim alleged that her employer had assaulted her and complained of pain in her left jaw and her lower back. The two communicated in simple Malay without an interpreter present. He described her demeanour as "quiet", not crying and not hysterical.

8 Dr Quek found a 2 cm bruise near the left jaw, a 1 cm bruise on the back of the right thigh and some pain on the lower back. An X-ray performed on the jaw did not show any fractures and the injuries were, in his opinion, consistent with blunt force injury. He annotated these injuries on the diagram in Exhibit P41. The victim, in his assessment, did not require any follow-up and was discharged with some painkillers. Dr Quek subsequently prepared a medical report with his findings stated (Exhibit P42).

9 When asked in Court if the injuries were fresh, Dr Quek stated that the time frame was difficult to assess, the closest he could get being that the bruises would develop by 8 to 9 hours of the assault. He also stated that it the bruises could have developed within a few days as well.

10 He also noted that in the photo Exhibit P38, there appeared to be a bit of swelling and bruise near the lower back that he did not document or examine in his examination, save that there was tenderness in that area. He opined that bruising could have developed between the examination and the time the photographs were taken, some 15 hours after the exam. He also gave his opinion that this injury was fresh.

11 During cross-examination, Dr Quek was asked if the injuries – specifically the injury to her jaw - could be self-inflicted. He stated that this was possible if enough force was used, or the victim threw herself against an object, but unlikely if it was suggested that the victim punched herself in the jaw, as the leverage and angle was wrong. His comments were similar as to the other injuries, that it could be possible that it was self-inflicted if the victim had used an object or a fist. However, he remained firm that punching herself in the jaw was unlikely due to the mechanics involved. He also stated that hitting oneself on the posterior thigh is also not easy.

PW5’s evidence

12 Sgt Goh Say Keat testified that on 6 August 2001 at about 8 pm he was on Fast Response Car duty with his partner Sgt Kamaruzaman. At about 8.10 am he received a message from his Division Operations Room that someone had been locked inside unit #07-03 at 623 Aljunied Road.

13 When they arrived, Sgt Goh and Sgt Kamar proceeded to the guardhouse, where the initial call to the police had been placed by the security guard Somnath Yadow. Upon asking, Yadow informed Sgt Goh that someone in unit #07-03 was banging on a door shouting for help. The three of them then proceeded to the unit. However, they initially went to #07-04 by mistake (see PW7 – Tay Joo Suah’s evidence).

14 When they eventually arrived at #07-03, they saw that the shutter to the office door (as seen in Exhibit P8) was pulled down three-quarters of the way. The other shutter leading to the workshop (as seen in Exhibit P12) was fully closed and locked. Sgt Goh stated that when they arrived at the doorstep they heard a lot of "scolding and shouting". Sgt Goh then pulled up the shutter to the office door and proceeded inside. The air-conditioning was on and the windows were closed.

15 Sgt Goh saw a man (the Appellant) and one Indonesian maid (the victim) in the premises (initial positions marked as "C" and "M" on Exhibit D1). The maid was standing up and was crying and frightened. The Appellant was sitting down, and asked as to what happened and whether there had been anyone locked inside the unit. The Appellant said nobody had been locked inside the unit.

16 Sgt Kamar interviewed the victim in Malay. She said that about 1 hour previously she had been locked inside the unit when the employer left to fetch his daughter at about 6.30 pm, so she had banged on the door and shouted for help. She also claimed that she had been assaulted by the Appellant. Sgt Goh stated that he noticed the left face of the victim was a little reddish, "a bit swollen". She mentioned that the Appellant had used a "kitchen utensil" to hit her face. However, she did not say when she had been assaulted. A search was subsequently conducted but failed to turn up the kitchen utensil the victim described. The workshop and the office were connected by two doors but they were locked.

17 The Appellant, when questioned, denied that he had assaulted the victim, and was described by Sgt Goh as being "arrogant" in the way he was speaking to the officers, speaking at the top of his voice. According to Sgt Goh, only after the 3rd or 4th attempt at asking him what had happened did he answer their questions, stating that at 6 plus he went to "fetch his daughter and wife" and left the maid inside the office. He also said had pulled the shutter down but did not lock it. The Appellant also said that he and his wife routinely went and fetched his child from school, whereupon he would drive them home, then return to the office to do work before bringing himself and the victim left and that the routine had been going on for quite some time. The two officers then informed the Investigating Officer at Bedok Police Headquarters of the evening’s events and were instructed to arrest the Appellant.

18 The Appellant was escorted back to Bedok Police Headquarters along with the victim. The Appellant was placed in the lock-up and an arrest report was lodged, while, pending investigations by the Investigating Officer, the victim was brought to a holding area.

PW6’s evidence

19 Sgt Kamaruzaman stated that on 6 August 2001 at about 8 pm he was doing Fast Reponse Car duty with Sgt Goh Say Keat, who was in charge. They arrived at the guardroom of 623 Aljunied Road at about 8.15 pm and were led up to the unit #07-03 by the security guard.

20 Sgt Kamar stated that he saw the shutter to the office unit rolled three-quarters of the way own and heard the sound of somebody (a male voice) scolding someone. Sgt Goh pushed up the shutter. Sgt Kamar said he saw two people in the office and proceeded to where they were. The Appellant was asked what happened (at the point marked as "X" on Exhibit D1) but refused to answer their questions. Sgt Kamar also said he appeared to be "arrogant".

21 In cross-examination, Defence Counsel attempted to suggest that Sgt Kamar and Sgt Goh had colluded to portray the Appellant as uncooperative when the contrary was true, due to their similar use of the word "arrogant" to describe the Appellant. Sgt Kamar denied this. He said the Appellant was "arrogant" because he did not answer them when they asked him politely and had an angry expression on his face. He also asked Sgt Kamar and Sgt Goh to leave the premises.

22 Sgt Kamar then took the victim outside to speak to her and left Sgt Goh to speak to the accused. They spoke in Malay, and Sgt Kamar stated that the victim appeared frightened and crying. She told Sgt Kamar that she had been slapped in the face with a "kitchen utensil" and had been kicked somewhere at the lower part of her body. The victim’s face was noted to be a little red but Sgt Kamar could not recall which side. She also stated she was kicked in the office and slapped on that day, but Sgt Kamar could not recall if she mentioned the time.

23 Sgt Kamar said that he believes after that he asked the Appellant if it was true. The Appellant admitted that he did latch the roller shutter. Sgt Kamar also tried to look for the "kitchen utensil" at the front, the pantry and the office area but was unable to find it.

24 After relaying the information to the Operations Room, they received instructions to bring the Appellant and the victim back to Headquarters to see the Investigating Officer.

PW7’s evidence

25 Mr Tay...

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