Public Prosecutor v Victor Rajoo

CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date08 September 1995
Neutral Citation[1995] SGCA 70
Citation[1995] SGCA 70
Date08 September 1995
Defendant CounselChristina Goh (Christina Goh & Co)
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselSowaran Singh (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 34 of 1995
Subject MatterPower of appellate court to reverse finding of fact based on impressions of witnesses' credibility,Whether complainant was induced by accused's deception to travel in accused's van,Property,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Whether act of taking money amounted to robbery,Appeal,Offences,Putting victim in fear of hurt,Absence of consent to sexual intercourse,Need to test evidence against material undisputed facts,Whether proof of struggle necessary to establish absence of consent,Robbery and gang robbery,s 366 Penal Code (Cap 224),s 376(2)(b) Penal Code (Cap 224),Whether evidence preferred by trial court inherently incredible when so tested,Criminal Law,Rape,s 392 Penal Code (Cap 224),Victim's money taken after she was raped,Kidnapping, abduction, slavery and forced labour

Cur Adv Vult

Before the High Court the respondent, Victor Rajoo (the accused), faced five charges, namely: (i) a charge of abduction of a lady, whom we shall call `AB`, with intent that she might be forced to illicit sexual intercourse, an offence punishable under s 366 of the Penal Code (Cap 224) (the Code); (ii) a charge of having carnal intercourse with AB against the order of nature, an offence punishable under s 377 of the Code; (iii) a charge of rape of AB and putting her in fear of hurt to herself, an offence punishable under s 376(2)(b) of the Code; (iv) a charge of robbery of $6000 from AB, an offence punishable under s 392 of the Code; and (v) a charge of theft of other items belonging to AB under s 379 of the Code. The accused claimed trial to the first four charges but pleaded guilty to the fifth charge, namely, that of theft. At the conclusion of the trial, the learned trial judge acquitted him of the first and third charges, but convicted him of the second charge and sentenced him to imprisonment for a term of six months and a fine of two thousand dollars. In respect of the fourth charge, the accused was acquitted of the charge of robbery but was convicted on an amended charge of theft under s 379 of the Code and was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two years which was to run consecutively to the term of six months. In respect of the theft charge to which the accused pleaded guilty, he was convicted and was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two years which was to run concurrently with the term of imprisonment passed on the amended fourth charge.

The Public Prosecutor now appeals against the decision of the learned trial judge in acquitting the accused of the first and third charges and in amending the fourth charge to one of theft and convicting the accused of that charge. It is necessary in this appeal to set out in some detail the evidence adduced by the prosecution and the defence respectively and to deal with it at some length.

The prosecution case

We turn first to the evidence of AB, the complainant. She is an Indian national, aged 44 years, and was at the material time in Singapore on a social visit pass. She is married with two children and does trading business for a living. She came to Singapore to purchase goods for her business sometime in January 1995, but that was not her first visit. During that visit, she stayed at a lodging house at No 28, Veerasamy Road. She bought some hair clips and sunglasses to sell them in Sri Lanka.

On 22 January 1995 at about 11am, AB was walking along Hampshire Road carrying two plastic bags which contained her various personal effects and other items. A motor van driven by the accused, who was dressed in a long sleeved sports shirt and bermuda shorts, came and stopped next to her. The accused asked AB whether she was from India and also where she had just come from, and she replied that she had gone to see someone to collect some money. The accused asked whether she had a visa, to which she replied in the affirmative. He then asked to see her visa and also demanded her passport. In response she asked who he was, and he replied that he was a police officer. When she said that he did not look like a police officer, he claimed that he was from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). She did not believe him and asked him to show his identification card. He flashed a card to identify himself but quickly put it back into his pocket. She then believed the accused`s claim that he was a police officer and handed over her passport as demanded, and told him that she would be returning to India the following day. He examined the passport and claimed that he had checked her at the airport police station two weeks ago, and that she had come to Singapore on a different passport. The accused then asked her to board his van so that he could bring her to the airport police station for an investigation. He said that after the investigation he would release her. When she refused to board the van, the accused threatened to handcuff her. On hearing this, she was frightened and boarded the van.

The accused drove the van along Serangoon Road, passed Sim Lim Towers and drove all the way towards the Changi Airport. After having travelled for about half an hour, the accused stopped the van. He then pointed to a building and told AB that that was where the police station was located. The accused told AB to go and sit in the rear compartment of the van, and explained that when police officers were bringing in someone for questioning, they were not supposed to have the person seated in the front cabin. AB left her two plastic bags in front and went into the rear compartment.

After AB had gone into the rear compartment, the van travelled for a short distance and went over a very bumpy road. At this point AB was concerned and she asked the accused in sign language after tapping at the window separating the two compartments where he was heading. The accused pointed his index finger at her and she assumed that he was going to answer a call of nature. When the van stopped, she noticed that there were a lot of trees around. It was `like a jungle area`.

The accused then went into the rear compartment, sat near the side door, removed his shoes and told AB that he had to check her. She told him to bring her to the police station and have a female officer to check her. The accused refused. AB became frightened. The accused then pulled at her saree, and as a result the saree came off. She pleaded with the accused. The accused abused her and instead pulled off her petticoat. He then ordered her to remove her blouse and brassiere. When she refused, the accused placed his hands on her neck and told her that he would kill her and throw her into the bushes. AB became frightened and therefore complied. The accused then undressed himself and went towards AB. She sat on the floorboard to avoid him and at this stage, the accused stepped on her ankle and repeated that he would kill her if she resisted. The accused then forced AB to submit to performing an act of fellatio on him (the subject of the second charge). AB accordingly did what she was told. Following that the accused raped her.

Thereafter, the accused handed AB her clothes and as she was dressing he noticed a knot at one end of her saree. He took the saree, untied the knot and found S$6,000 in it and took the money. AB tried to snatch it back but he pushed her away, and as a result she fell. After they had dressed, he went back to the driver`s seat and she followed him. He asked her to shut the rear compartment door. She went into the rear compartment. She then saw a card and delivery order attached to a flower basket in the van. She took the card and delivery order. When she alighted from the van, she went to the rear of the van and noted the vehicle number, `YG 1496M`. She then went to the front of the vehicle to confirm the number. By this time the accused had started to drive off with AB`s two bags still in the van at the front. She then went out to the main road and flagged for help from passing vehicles. Eventually, a car driven by one Simon Tay Seong Chee, a lecturer with the Law Faculty of the National University of Singapore, came along. With Simon Tay in the car were his wife, Siow Jin Hua, and a friend. They found AB in distress and brought her to the nearest police station, the airport police station. Inside the car, she borrowed a pen and scribbled `YG 1496M` on a piece of paper.

Simon Tay and his wife both gave evidence. Simon Tay testified that at the material time he was driving his motor car SBA 2180X from Changi Village with his wife seated next to him and a friend on the rear seat. Whilst travelling along Changi Coast Road, a short distance from the SIA hangars and somewhere near the entrance leading to a construction site, he saw a female Indian standing on the road `waving her arms in the air, using her hands to beat her chest` and trying to flag the passing vehicles. At first Simon Tay drove past her but immediately slowed down and observed from the rear mirror that she was in distress. After a brief consultation with his wife and his friend he turned around, drove up to her and stopped beside her. He noticed that AB was distressed and emotional, and uttered some words in broken English to the effect that someone had taken her passport, money and air ticket. She said that she was from India and needed help. She kept repeating `police` as she could hardly speak English. Realizing that she needed help Simon Tay asked her to board the car. She boarded the car and sat on the rear seat. She asked for a piece of paper and pen. Siow Jin Hua gave her a pen and she wrote down several numbers on a portion of a newspaper which was in the car. Throughout the journey she kept on talking in broken English and Simon Tay came to understand that the culprit had taken her things and had identified himself as a policeman. On reaching the police station, Simon Tay referred her to some police officers. She became more distressed and started crying.

Siow Jin Hua confirmed in substance what her husband said. She also said that AB was very upset, spoke very incoherently and cried and gestured a great deal.

At the Airport Police Division Headquarters on that day the police officer, Abdul Karim bin Senin, was on duty when AB was brought in by Simon Tay. According to Abdul Karim, AB upon entering the report room...

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