Public Prosecutor v Mohamad Shaheed Bin M K Mohideen

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeTerence Chua Seng Leng
Judgment Date02 May 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] SGMC 13
Citation[2003] SGMC 13
Publication Date02 October 2003
Plaintiff CounselSim Ngin Kit and Richard Lim (Police Prosecutor)
Defendant CounselSS Rajah (M/S Chiang Wee & Partners)

1 The Respondent faced one charge of behaving in a disorderly manner by shouting at the top of his voice, an offence under Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, Chapter 184, taking place on 24 September 2002 at about 7.10 pm outside Court 26 of the Subordinate Courts.

2 The Respondent claimed trial to the charge. At the end of the trial, and after hearing submissions from both the Prosecution and the Defence, the Respondent was acquitted on the charge against him.

The Prosecution Case

3 The Prosecution called only two witnesses. Both gave evidence from the witness box.

PW1 - Sergeant Lee Sin Meng

PW2 - Staff Sergeant Ramesh Vincent

PW1's evidence

4 Sgt Lee Sin Meng gave evidence that on 24 September 2002 at about 7 pm, he was the police officer in charge of Court 13N (being conducted in Court 26). His duties, which were performed in uniform, were to maintain peace and order inside the court as well as to escort the accused persons to pay their fines if they had been sentenced, or to the lock-up if they could not pay the fines imposed.

5 At about 7.10 pm, Sgt Lee stated that while talking to the father of an accused person, he noticed a male Indian standing behind the interpreter, whom he identified as the Respondent. According to Sgt Lee, the Respondent was not supposed to be standing there. Believing he had already been sentenced, Sgt Lee approached the Respondent and asked him in English, "Sir, what is your sentence?" The Respondent replied, in a normal tone, "You have no ears to listen, is it?" Under cross-examination Sgt Lee stated that he thought it rude.

6 At that point one of the interpreters came forward and passed the Respondent a mention slip, leading Sgt Lee to realize that the Respondent had not been sentenced and that his case had been adjourned. However, Sgt Lee was still quite shocked at the reply, and went to explain to the Respondent that this was his duty. He tried to stop the Respondent by saying, "Hello," but the Respondent ignored him and continued walking away.

7 Sgt Lee repeated his, "Hello," two or three times. The Respondent then turned around and said, in a slightly louder tone, "Hello, I am not a phone." Sgt Lee stated that the Respondent was attracting a lot of attention from the public (which, according to Sgt Lee, consisted of 50 to 60 accused persons plus other members of the public). Sgt Lee explained to the Respondent that the Court was in session and asked the Respondent to lower his volume. Sgt Lee stated that he wanted to get the Respondent out of the court room so as not to disrupt court proceedings.

8 While walking out of the door the Respondent continued mumbling, and Sgt Lee escorted him. Near the door, the Respondent turned and asked, "Are you trying to find trouble with me?" Sgt Lee replied, "If you want to talk, we go outside and have a talk."

9 Once outside the courtroom, Sgt Lee testified that the Respondent shouted at him, saying that the police had "no brains and ears" and asking why Sgt Lee was "finding trouble" with him. Under cross-examination, he also said that he asked the Respondent, "What is the problem, are you not happy with me or what?" Sgt Lee stated that he explained that it was his duty to maintain peace and order inside the Court and it was his fault he did not hear the sentence correctly. Under cross-examination, Sgt Lee also stated that when the Respondent told him "Why are you finding trouble with me," that took place inside the court, near the door, and that his question, "Do you have a problem with me or what?" or words to that effect took place outside the door.

10 However, the Respondent was not mollified by Sgt Lee's explanation that it was his duty to maintain order, and asked Sgt Lee if he should bow to him as a police officer. Sgt Lee replied, "Not to that extent." The Respondent then kept pointing to his summons from the Singapore Broadcasting Authority (which was his case that evening), saying that the police had gotten him into trouble, and that they had "no brains". Under cross-examination, Sgt Lee stated that it was then that he explained that it was his duty to maintain order and it was not his fault the Respondent had been issued with a summons.

11 According to Sgt Lee, the Respondent continued shouting about the summons, the police having no brains and getting him into trouble about two to three times, and was rowdy. Each time Sgt Lee gave the Respondent a warning to lower his volume, but the Respondent apparently did not hear or ignored him. At this point, there was a crowd of 10 to 20 people outside the Court, looking curious and stepping forward to see what was happening.

12 At this point, a female Indian who was accompanying the Respondent came forward. Sgt Lee described her as the Respondent's "wife", but it transpired later that she was only a friend of the Respondent's (DW2 - Senthamel Selve d/o Ramanathan). According to Sgt Lee, she tried to pull the Respondent away but the Respondent pushed her away and spoke something in Tamil to her which Sgt Lee did not understand. She then seemed afraid and took a step backwards.

13 Sgt Lee warned the Respondent that if he did not "cool down" he would be arrested, and the Respondent replied by challenging Sgt Lee to arrest him, again in a very loud tone of voice, "Arrest, arrest lor." Sgt Lee then asked the Respondent to follow him to the guardhouse, which the Respondent did so with no resistance. Along the way, the Respondent continued to say the same things, but now in a normal tone. Sgt Lee ignored the remarks. Once at the guardhouse, Sgt Lee asked for the Respondent's particulars and placed him under arrest for disorderly behaviour. The Respondent was then handcuffed by another officer.

14 Under cross-examination, Sgt Lee stated that the challenge by the Respondent to have him arrested took place just prior to the attempted intervention by the Respondent's "wife".

15 Sgt Lee stated he had not met the Respondent prior to 24 September, and that the Respondent smelled of alcohol that evening. He also stated that he would not have arrested the Respondent if the Respondent had merely been rude or had argued with him. The Prosecution tendered Sgt Lee's pocket book (Exhibit P2) and the arrest report (Exhibit P3) as Prosecution exhibits.

16 Under cross-examination, when asked why he pursued the matter with rhe Respondent, Sgt Lee stated that he wanted to find out why the Respondent had replied in such a rude manner when Sgt Lee had been polite to him all along. Sgt Lee conceded that at this point, the Respondent was not acting in a disorderly manner. Sgt Lee also stated that police officers were taught to be "service quality" personnel and so, if his tone of voice had agitated the Respondent, then he wanted to say, "Sorry," and make him feel better, even though it was beyond his scope of work that evening. However, he conceded that he did not make any attempt to ask him why he had been agitated by his earlier remark, except to ask him outside the courtroom, "What is the problem, are you not happy with me or what?" When asked by the Court if he was rude while saying this, Sgt Lee said no, that he was smiling all the way, and did not intend to agitate him. He agreed, that other people might find the smile sarcastic.

17 Also under cross-examination, further details emerged. Sgt Lee said that at one point he said to the Respondent, "I have all the while been polite to you, I do not think it is proper for you to treat me in this way." To which the Respondent replied, "What do you expect me to do? To bow at you?"

18 Sgt Lee was cross-examined on Exhibit P3, the arrest report. In court, he stated that the Respondent did not shout inside Court 26, nor was he shouting when he said the police had "no ears".

19 However, in Exhibit P3, line 7, it states, "was shouting inside Court 26." (The whole sentence actually reads "Subject was shouting outside and inside Court 26 when I asked him what happened to his case," with the word "outside" crossed out.) In explanation, Sgt Lee said that he actually intended to write "outside" but somehow deleted the word "outside" by mistake and also forgot to cancel the word "shouting." He also stated that he did not read the statement before signing it because he was in a hurry.

20 Sgt Lee was then referred to the extract from his pocketbook (Exhibit P2), where the entry for 1905 hours reads, "While inside Court 13N, I asked a person for his result as I could not catch what the judge says. He shouted saying that police got no ears is it?" Again, when asked to explain the discrepancy between this and his evidence in Court, he stated that the entry was a mistake. However, Sgt Lee denied that the following sentence, "It catch attention of a number of people inside the court," was also a mistake.

21 Sgt Lee further stated that his testimony in Court was the truth and that the Respondent's tone while inside Court 26 was "average", but was louder than normal, and because of his own limited vocabulary he put the word "shouted". He repeated that the entry in Exhibit P3 about shouting was really a mistake.

22 He was referred also to the sentence in Exhibit P2, page 2, which went, "While outside the court, he started to shout and gesture at me." When asked to explain why he had no mentioned anything about a gesture earlier in his testimony, Sgt Lee said that nobody had asked him about it.

PW2's evidence

23 SSgt Ramesh Vincent was the Investigating Officer in the case. He had been informed of the incident on 24 September 2002 at about 8 pm but only went down to the scene a few days later as he had other pending cases, being the Duty Investigating Officer that day. He gave evidence that he attempted to locate other witnesses to the incident...

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