Public Prosecutor v haron Bin Hassim

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeTey Tsun Hang
Judgment Date08 October 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGDC 260
Citation[2002] SGDC 260
Published date19 September 2003



The accused, aged 41, a carpet sales assistant, was initially charged with three counts of using criminal force on a young girl, A, then aged 5, intending to outrage her modesty by touching her vulva, some time between 12 June 2000 to 4 July 2000, at A’s family apartment at Tanglin Halt. The accused was then staying at A’s family apartment, occupying a torn sofa in the living hall of the apartment, at a rental of some $50 a week paid to A’s father, B.

2 When A testified in court, she insisted that the accused used his middle finger to ‘poke into’ her vagina on three separate occasions, in the living room of her family apartment. It was clarified that A did not allege that the accused had either touched or rubbed her vagina. Major inconsistencies began to show very clearly, at the examination-in-chief. In all, A’s testimony was extremely puzzling, inconsistent and unreliable in many critical areas of the prosecution’s case.

3 After the testimony of A and the initial part of the cross-examination of B, in the late morning, the learned prosecutor, Mr Lee Jwee Nguan, applied for the court to be stood down early so that he could have time to discuss and obtain permission from the Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor, to drop the charges against the accused. I allowed it.

4 I was later informed that the Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor on duty in the Subordinate Courts could not grant Mr Lee the permission to drop the charges. Mr Lee was asked to go back to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to seek formal permission from his Director of Prosecution. It was only in the late afternoon that Mr Lee informed the court that he was instructed nonetheless to proceed with the prosecution. At this point, all the three charges were amended to that of using criminal force on A, intending to outrage her modesty, by inserting one of the accused’s fingers into her vagina in the months of June and July 2002.

5 The consultant doctor who examined A, Dr Yeong Chen Toh (‘Dr Yeong’), from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, told the court that A informed him at the examination that the accused had ‘inserted his fingers’ into her vagina. What was significant was that Dr Yeong confirmed upon the medical examination that there were no external injuries and A’s hymenal ring remained intact. Dr Yeong also stated that as A was then 5 years of age, the insertion of an adult finger would most likely create tear in her hymen, due to the size of her introitus.

6 The evidence also revealed that at no time, was A left alone with the accused in A’s family apartment, throughout his short stay there. B said he was taking an afternoon nap when the acts were allegedly carried out. A said that she cried very loudly as it was very painful, and that she bled at the vagina on all three occasions. Yet, B said that he did not get up to attend to A, even though their apartment was a one-bedroom apartment.

7 There was evidence of quarrel about rental and the amount, between the accused, B and his wife, C. There were also many critical inconsistencies between the testimonies of B and C. What was most shocking, C (A’s mother) informed the court that in the morning of the first day of the trial, on their way to the Court, A told her that the accused had allegedly used two fingers (not one), every time he poked into her vagina – using his index and middle fingers at the same time. Yet, when A came to testify the very same morning, she said the accused used only the middle finger. C also told the Court when A first complained to her, A was giggling and laughing about her narration of such alleged offences.

8 There were many unsatisfactory areas in the prosecution’s case, with no sensible explanations. They were not minor or fanciful, but were major and critical inconsistencies. In the circumstances, I acquitted the accused of all three charges.

9 B was also caught twisting the truth, if not outright perjuring in court to shore up the account. Upon very close and careful perusal of the Notes of Evidence, there is sufficient evidence, together with a letter from the Queenstown Polyclinic, to compel me to formally state in this judgment that there is enough material for serious investigations by the authorities into the offence of perjury in court, under Section 191 of the Penal Code, by B. Having said that, in coming to this judgment, I have not at all relied on this possible perjury by B. It is for the investigating authorities. It is for another venue.

The Accused

10 The accused was working as a carpet sales assistant when he was arrested. Before that, he worked as a security guard. The accused is stocky, and has strong arms and relatively big hands. He was recently married, and his wife is now six months’ pregnant.

11 He was charged on 24 January 2002. A bail of $20,000 was offered. As he could not manage to raise the sum, he has been in remand since 24 January 2002. He also could not afford to hire his own counsel, and was represented by the learned defence counsel, Mr Laurence Goh, who was assigned to act for him under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.

12 The accused became acquainted with B when he started working as a security guard at a Dover Crescent worksite. B was the accused’s supervisor. They got along well. At that time, the accused slept at the worksite, as he had just been booted out of his mother’s place after a quarrel. He was, however, worried that he might soon be found out by the management, and disciplinary action could be taken against him. When the accused informed B that he was looking for a place to stay, B told the accused that he could stay at his family apartment.

13 However, there was one problem. B’s apartment is very small – it is a one-bedroom apartment. He has a wife and three young children – ages 7, 5 and 1. The accused was only allowed to sleep on a torn sofa in the living room. The accused stayed there for some three weeks, in the period of June-July 2000. Some five months after the accused moved out, on 24 November 2000, a police report was made by B. He reported that the accused had committed very serious sexual offences against his eldest daughter, A, then 5 years’ old, by using his finger and ‘poking in’ her vagina on three separate occasions during the accused’s three weeks stay with them, in the period of June-July 2000.

14 In the police report dated 24 November 2000, made by B, it was stated (P5), ‘..[the accused] used his finger to poke into her private part on three occasions. [A] also told me she was bleeding on all three occasions and that it was very painful..’

The Charges

15 However, at the commencement of the trial, the accused was charged with three counts of using criminal force on a young girl, intending to outrage her modesty by touching her vulva, sometime between 12 June 2000 to 4 July 2000, at A’s family apartment at Tanglin Halt.

Trial for More Than One Offence

16 I allowed a trial for all the three charges. As provided for under Section 170 of the Criminal Procedure Code:

170. Trial for more than one offence

(1) If in one series of acts so connected together as to form the same transaction more offences than one are committed by the same person, he may be charged with and tried at one trial for every such offence.

a trial for all the three charges is appropriate in the circumstances: Chin Choy v PP [1955] MLJ 236, Tan Teik Leong v R [1956] MLJ 14, PP v Ridzuan Kok bin Abdullah [1995] 2 MLJ 745. The alleged acts were alleged to have taken place in a certain sequence and at around a period of time between 12 June 2000 to 4 July 2000, at A’s family apartment, and allegedly carried out by the accused. In the circumstances, the learned defence counsel, Mr Goh, quite rightly did not see it appropriate to challenge the trial for more than one offence.

Dr Bernadine Woo

17 Dr Bernadine Woo, of the Child Guidance Clinic, testified for the prosecution. In her examination-in-chief, Dr Woo said A told her that the accused asked A to sit beside him on the sofa, and touched her vagina (NE 5A). However, A also told Dr Woo that the accused put his fingers into her vagina (NE 5C). Dr Woo commented that ‘she said ‘touched’, she also said ‘put fingers into vagina’, not consistent there.’ (NE 5C)

18 Dr Woo, in cross-examination, also expressed surprise when she was told that A has said that at every incident when the accused allegedly ‘poked his finger’ into her, she bled. Dr Woo told the court that A did not tell her about it earlier. Dr Woo further said that if A had been bleeding, A would most likely have told her so.

In cross-examination:

Q: Refer paragraph 4 of P4, on first occasion, did she on first occasion of interview, tell you, after each incident, she was bleeding?

A: She didn’t tell me that. (looks surprised)

Q: During the second occasion, she didn’t tell you she was bleeding?

A: She didn’t tell me that. (looks surprised)

Q: As a psychiatrist, if an incident was so traumatic, she felt pain, there was bleeding, would she have told you about the part on the bleeding or would she not tell you that?

A: If it was bleeding and traumatic, it is very likely she would have told me. I am very surprised the child didn’t tell me. Her father told me at the first interview, she showed her mother her panties after the first incident. According to the father, the mother didn’t say anything later on, when this was reported to police, the father asked the mother and the mother said she saw blood stain on the panties on the second interview, I interviewed the mother, the mother told me the child had a panties with bloodstain. However, both parents told me they didn’t initially made a report because they didn’t really know whether to believe the child or not. They were not sure. (NE 9-10)

19 Dr Woo continued to express her surprise that A did not tell her about bleeding at the vagina on every occasion of the alleged ‘poking’ of the vagina by the accused.


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