Public Prosecutor v Goh Yang Chye

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeChong Kah Wei
Judgment Date13 August 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] SGMC 28
Citation[2003] SGMC 28
Publication Date02 October 2003
Plaintiff CounselKong Leong Heng (Police Prosecutor)
Defendant CounselAccused in person

1 The accused, Mr Goh Yang Chye (“Goh”), claimed trial to the following charge of voluntarily causing hurt under section 323 of the Penal Code, Cap 224:

PS 1862/2002 (Charge) (Exh. “P1”)

You, Goh Yang Chye, Male/41 years, NRIC No: S1467973A, D.O.B. 30 August 1961, are charged that you on or about the 28th day of March 2002 at or about 7.05pm at the Lavender MRT Station, 50 Kallang Road, Singapore, did voluntarily caused hurt [sic] to one Peng Lee Hiang, to wit, by slapping Peng Lee Hiang once on her left cheek, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 323 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

2 At the conclusion of the trial, I found that the Prosecution had not proven its case against Goh beyond a reasonable doubt and accordingly I acquitted him on the charge. The Prosecution has now appealed against the order of acquittal.

Issues in this trial

3 In this trial, the Court was faced with essentially two different versions of what happened at Lavender MRT station on the material date. Mdm Peng Lee Hiang (“Peng”) alleged that Goh had slapped her on her left cheek quite hard, causing her pain and bleeding on her gums and / or left inner cheek. Goh in his Defence admitted to slapping Peng, but contended that his slap was so light that it would not have caused her any pain. Goh also contended that he had not slapped Peng “voluntarily”, and that he had slapped Peng under grave and sudden provocation and in exercise of his right of private defence.

Undisputed and admitted facts

4 The following facts are either undisputed or admitted by Goh.

5 Goh and Peng were husband and wife on the material date, 28 March 2002. They have a daughter, Eunice Goh Hwee Nee (“Eunice”), who was seven years old and was studying in primary one in Hong Wen Primary School on the material date. On the material date, Goh and Peng were undergoing difficulties in their marriage, and were legally separated. Pursuant to a court order, Peng had custody of Eunice, while Goh was to have access from Sunday at 8.30am to Tuesday at 8.30am every week. In addition, on every alternate public holiday, Goh would have access from 5.30pm on the eve of the public holiday, until 5.30pm on the day of the public holiday itself.

6 28 March 2002 was the eve of Good Friday, a public holiday. Goh was supposed to have access to Eunice from 5.30pm on this day. As Eunice was in the afternoon session in her school, Goh was supposed to pick her up after school was dismissed that day.

7 Goh was late in picking up Eunice that day. When school was dismissed that day, Eunice was met by one Tang Mee Yun (“Tang”) at her school. Tang was Peng’s niece and was also Eunice’s cousin. They were joined by Peng, and the three of them proceeded to Lavender MRT station, which was a short walk away from the school.

8 When Goh arrived, he looked for Eunice in school, and at Peng’s residence. Goh received a telephone call from Eunice, when she was at Lavender MRT station. Goh then proceeded to Lavender MRT station, and met Peng, Tang and Eunice near the public telephones. Goh subsequently gave Peng a slap on her left cheek using his right hand, which gave rise to these proceedings. The police were called, and Goh, Peng, Tang and Eunice were invited to the staff room at Lavender MRT station to wait for the arrival of the police. After waiting for some time, Goh left Lavender MRT station with Eunice before the arrival of the police.

9 After speaking to her matrimonial lawyer, and on her lawyer’s advice, Peng sought medical attention later that night at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

10 As at the date of this trial, Goh and Peng were undergoing divorce, and the divorce decree nisi had just been granted. The issue of the custody of Eunice was still pending resolution.

The Prosecution case

11 I now turn to the evidence in dispute. The Prosecution called three witnesses:

(a) PW1 – Inspector Lee Hing – investigating officer

(b) PW2 – Peng Lee Hiang – victim / ex-wife of accused

(c) PW3 – Tang Mee Yun – witness / victim’s niece

12 All witnesses gave oral testimony on the witness stand. The Prosecution’s evidence consisted mainly of Peng’s testimony. The Prosecution called Tang to corroborate Peng’s evidence regarding the events at Lavender MRT station on the material date. Inspector Lee Hing (“Insp Lee”) was called to adduce evidence of Goh’s police statement (exhibit P3) and the first information report (exhibit P2).

Evidence of the victim, Peng Lee Hiang (PW2)

13 Peng Lee Hiang was a senior staff nurse at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Goh was her ex-husband and Eunice was their daughter. As at 28 March 2002, Goh and Peng were legally separated. At the material date, Peng lived at Block 462 Crawford Lane #05-71, which was just a one to two-minute walk to Hong Wen Primary School, where Eunice was studying.

14 The child custody and access arrangements in respect of Eunice were the subject of a court order, which gave Peng custody and gave Goh access from 8.30am on Sunday to 8.30am on Tuesday. Under the court order, Goh was to have access on alternate public holidays, beginning at 5.30pm on the eve of the public holiday and ending at 5.30pm on the public holiday itself. Before Eunice entered primary one, she was enrolled in a childcare centre at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where Peng worked. Each Sunday, Peng would hand Eunice over to Goh at Beach Road Police Station. Goh would pick Eunice up from the childcare centre on his access days. After Eunice entered primary one in Hong Wen Primary School in 2002, Goh and Peng agreed that while Peng would still hand Eunice over to Goh at Beach Road Police Station on Sundays, Goh would send Eunice back to school on Tuesday morning, at the end of his access. On Goh’s access days, he was supposed to pick Eunice up from the school after school. In further cross-examination, Peng agreed that in 2002, she was supposed to hand Eunice over to Goh at Shaw Towers on Sunday, and Goh would hand Eunice back to her at Lavender MRT on Tuesday morning.

15 Initially, when Eunice started primary one, Goh faithfully fetched Eunice to and from school on his access days. After a certain period, which point of time Peng was not aware, Goh started letting Eunice walk to the school from Lavender MRT station, and vice versa. On Goh’s access days, Goh had on quite a few occasions dropped Eunice at Lavender MRT station and let her walk by herself to the school, and let her walk by herself to Lavender MRT station after school. As Eunice was only in primary one, and it was the beginning of the school term, Peng did not feel that it was safe for Eunice to walk by herself. Therefore, during Goh’s access days, Peng would try to bring Eunice to and from Lavender MRT station most of the time. There were therefore times when Peng brought Eunice from the school to Lavender MRT station. In re-examination, Peng stated that prior to 28 March 2002, she had ever handed Eunice over to Goh at Lavender MRT station. When asked how many times she had done so, Peng initially stated that she could not remember, then estimated it to be between ten to fifteen times. Peng also added that on these ten to fifteen occasions, Goh did not complain that she had accompanied Eunice.

16 In cross-examination, Peng stated that there was an agreement reached prior to the incident, that she would fetch Eunice from the school to Lavender MRT. In cross-examination, Peng claimed that her lawyer had written to Goh to inform him of the situation, and that there was a conversation in which Peng informed Goh that she was fetching Eunice to and from school during Goh’s access days, and Goh replied that he was aware of it, and that Peng could go ahead with it.[i] Peng stated that she believed she had been given permission by Goh. In cross-examination, Peng stated that she could not remember Goh telling her that his purpose was to build up Eunice’s confidence and independence, and that he objected to her interference in his access.[ii] She also stated that she could not remember Goh informing her lawyer of his purpose of letting Eunice walk by herself, and of his trailing Eunice on the first few occasions. In cross-examination, Peng stated that Goh had agreed in a telephone conversation to her walking with Eunice to and from the MRT station, but she could not remember the date of this telephone conversation.[iii] When Goh suggested that she had only sought and obtained permission after the incident, Peng initially stated that she could not remember the date, but when Goh suggested that she had only sought permission in April or May 2002, Peng stated that she had nothing to say.[iv]

17 From Hong Wen Primary School, one would need to walk past a bridge, and past the Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) Building, and cross a traffic light between the SIR Building and Lavender MRT station, before reaching Lavender MRT station. It would take about five minutes to walk quickly from Hong Wen Primary School to Lavender MRT station. In re-examination, Peng stated that the pedestrian crossing at the traffic light between the SIR Building and Lavender MRT station was across a single-lane two-way road that led into and from a car park. This road was not very busy between 6.30pm to 7.00pm, as far as Peng had noticed. People did not always wait for a green signal before crossing at the traffic light before the MRT station.

18 Goh was supposed to have access to Eunice on Thursday, 28 March 2002, after school. On 27 March 2002, Peng’s department had organised an afternoon visit on the following day to Grace Orchard Special School which was situated at Boon Lay. Fearing that she might not reach home in time to fetch Eunice from school and bring her to Lavender MRT station to meet Goh, Peng requested her niece, Tang to help bring Eunice to Lavender MRT station. Peng instructed Tang to look out for Goh at the main gate of the school, and if Goh was not there, Tang was to bring Eunice to...

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