Public Prosecutor v Ho Wei Chuan

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeAedit Abdullah
Judgment Date26 May 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] SGDC 121
Citation[2005] SGDC 121
Published date16 June 2005
Plaintiff CounselAsp Rai and Inspector Ramasamy, Prosecuting Officers,Anand Kumar

26 May 2005

District Judge Aedit Abdullah

1. The Appellant pleaded guilty to and was convicted of one count of forgery, under s 465 Penal Code, for which he was sentenced to 6 weeks’ imprisonment. The Appellant being dissatisfied with the sentence imposed, the reasons for the sentence are now given.

The charge

2. The charge against the Appellant reads:

You, Ho Wei Chuan, M 36 years old, NRIC No. 6817856H, DOB 11.05.1968, are charged that you on the 11th day of October, 2004 at about 11.00 pm at Deck B3 of Block 527 Choa Chu Kang Street 51, #06-277, Singapore, did fraudulently forge a document, namely, HDB season car park label for the month of October 2004, to wit, by using a scanner and altering the dates and vehicle number on the said carpark label, with the intention of causing it to be believed that it was original documents issued by HDB, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 465 Penal Code Cap 224.

The facts

3. The material portions of the Statement of Facts admitted by the Appellant read as follows:

4. On 12.10.2004 at about 9.30 am the complainant called Police informing that he found a car parked using a forged HDB season car park label.

5. Investigations revealed that on 11.10.2004 at about 10.00 am, accused went over to his sister’s place to take over [his] sister’s car SDV 5537Y as he was given custody of the car while [his] sister was away in Thailand. On the same day and at about 10.00 pm, he parked the car at deck B3 at Block 527A Choa Chu Kang Street 51 and proceeded home.

6. On the same day at about 11.00 pm, while the accused was at home, he used his Canon scanner to scan an image of a used HDB season parking label into his Acer laptop and used the software Adobe Photoshop to edit the image. He edited the validity period to 1.10.04 - 31.10.04 and the vehicle registration number to SDV 5537Y. After doing so, he printed the image using an Epson Colour printer. Upon printing the re-produced parking label, he displayed the said label on the dash board of the said car and used it as a genuine.

7. On 12.10.04 at about 8.50 am, the complainant received complaints about illegal parking at Block 527A Choa Chu Kang Street 51 and together with other enforcement officers, made a check. They randomly checked on the car registration plates using their handheld ticking system and discovered that the accused had displayed a re-produced parking ticket and display it on motor car SDV 5537Y.

8. Accused thus had forged as HDB season car park label valued at $88.20 cents for the month of October 2004, by using a scanner and altering the dates and vehicle number on the said carpark label with the intention of causing it to be believed that it was [sic] original document issued by HDB.

Antecedents

4. The Appellant has no previous conviction.

Mitigation

5. The Appellant relied on his letter of mitigation in which he expressed regret for what he had done and that his moment of foolishness had not only affected him, but his family as well. He further said that since his business failure and that he was declared a bankrupt in 2001, he has not been able to secure a full time job and is working on a part time basis till the hearing. His father had passed away three months previously, and he needed to take care of his 60 year old mother and one year old baby girl. He pleaded for leniency from the Court as throughout his 36 years of life he had not committed any criminal offence before. He had nothing to add in oral mitigation.

6. After sentence was passed, the Appellant again pleaded for a fine to be imposed. He reiterated he had to take care of his mother. I informed him that I had already passed sentence, and would not in any event, change what had been imposed.

7. I should also note that the Appellant in his written mitigation asked that the media be prevented from reporting the matter, to protect his part time job. I was of the view though that there was nothing in this case that warranted any restriction on the publication of information.

Prosecution’s submissions

8. The Prosecution did not address the Court on sentence.

The Sentence imposed

Imposing imprisonment

9. In arriving at the appropriate sentence to be imposed, the Court was well aware that the charge against the Appellant was under s 465 for simple forgery rather than aggravated forms, such as forgery of public documents under s 466, or forgery for the purposes of cheating under s 468. The appropriate sentence therefore had to be measured against the range of conduct caught by s 465. It also had to be within the prescribed punishment under s 465, which was up to 2 years’ imprisonment or fine, within the District Court limit, or both.

10. There were to my mind a number of factors which showed that a fine was not an appropriate punishment. Firstly, what was significant about the commission of the offence by the Appellant was that the forgery was not a simple alteration of a letter or two in a handwritten note. The Appellant had taken some pains to commit his crime. He had scanned in the image of a used parking label, altered the validity period and the vehicle registration number, and then printed out the fake label using a colour printer. This showed that the criminal act was not impulsive or committed on the spur of the moment. It clearly required thought, planning and premeditation; this was an aggravating feature: Public Prosecutor v Tan Fook Sum [1999] SGHC 80. Though he had done all this within the space of a day or less, this did not detract from the fact that this was a considered act requiring the planned use of the computer equipment and peripherals to manufacture a fake car park label.

11. Secondly, the forgery was not targeted merely at a private individual, or a commercial entity. The target here the Housing and Development Board, which built and runs the carparks as part of its statutory functions under the Housing and Development Act, presumably s 13(b), which deals with the function of the HDB to manage property vested in it. While private entities do also...

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