Public Prosecutor v WJ (a minor)

CourtJuvenile Court (Singapore)
JudgeWong Li Tein
Judgment Date05 January 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] SGJC 1
Citation[2008] SGJC 1
Published date23 April 2008
Plaintiff CounselINSP Ting Nge Kong
Defendant CounselJuvenile and parents in person

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The details of this judgment have been changed to comply with the Children and Young Persons Act and/or the Women's Charter]

5 January 2008

Magistrate Wong Li Tein:

1 On 10 September 2007, WJ, a female juvenile aged 15 years and 5 months (“the Juvenile”), was charged for one count of theft under section 379 of the Penal Code (Cap 224) as follows:

Charge

You, WJ, F/15 yrs, NRIC: S92XXXXXX, Singapore, are charged that you on the 1st day of Jun 2005 at about 12.00pm, at CK Department Store located at Blk 336 Smith Street, New Bridge Road Centre, Singapore, together with B2, F/14yrs, and in furtherance of the common intention of you all, did commit theft, to wit:

1. Three “Wet and Wild Smoky Spark” eye shadows valued at S$8.50 each

2. One “Colgate Whitening” valued at S$2.60 each

3. One “Water Lip Balm” valued at S$6.50 each

amounting to a total value of S$34.60, in the custody of the Duty Store Manager, Ms Sandy Ng, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 379 read with section 34 of the Penal Code.

2 According to the Statement of Facts, the Juvenile and B2 went shopping at CK Department Store on 1 June 2005 at around 12 noon. When they were at the cosmetics section, the Juvenile saw an eye shadow that interest her and asked B2 to take it for her. B2 complied by removing the item from the shelf, tearing away the packaging and bar code and placing it in her bag. The Juvenile acted as a lookout for her during this time. Thereafter, they left the store without making any payment.

3 Outside the store, they were stopped by the store security officer and brought to the security office, whereupon the stolen items were recovered from their possession.

4 The Juvenile admitted to the Statement of Facts without qualification and was found guilty as charged. In mitigation, she stated that although she did not steal the items, she did act as a lookout for B2. For this offence, she was placed under the Guidance Programme (GP) and had participated in a few sessions before leaving for a holiday in Thailand and then stopped attending. She claimed that she has stopped shoplifting since then. According to her parents, the Juvenile had informed them that there would be no more counselling sessions. They claimed that they have been strict with the Juvenile but the GP counsellors had not. A probation report was called for.

5 At the Court mention on 9 October 2007, after considering the probation report, the case was adjourned for a month for the probation officer, Ms Cherlyn Lim, to confirm if the Juvenile’s school was willing to reinstate her as she had dropped out earlier in the year. A supplementary report was called for. However, two days before the next mention date, on 4 November 2007, the Juvenile ran away from home and returned only two days later. As such, the Court revoked bail and placed the Juvenile in remand in Singapore Girls’ Home for her safety. A second supplementary report was called for.

6 At the final mention date, on 27 November 2007, the Juvenile was ordered to be sent to an approved school, namely the Singapore Girls’ Home, for a period of 24 months. The parents were to execute a proper care and guardianship bond of $2000.00 with the Court.

7 Being dissatisfied with my decision, the parents of the Juvenile now appeals against sentence. These are the grounds for my decision.

Probation Report

8 Ms Cherlyn Lim, the probation officer from Probation Services Branch (PSB), Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), submitted a probation report to the Court highlighting the background of the Juvenile and risk factors. The probation report was for the Court mention on 9 October 2007.

9 The probation officer’s assessment then was that the Juvenile disregards rules and boundaries. According to the probation officer in paragraph 9.2 of the report:

“One of WJ’s key risk factors is her disregard for rules and boundaries in her life. She had previously been placed on Guidance Programme for her offence, but failed to comply with instructions to attend counselling sessions. In school, she frequently played truant, skipped classes, and had on many occasions refused to comply with attire regulations in school. These misbehaviours had continued despite repeated warnings and intervention by the school. She also chose to stop attending school since July 2007, despite parents’ and school’s disapproval. At home, her parents though concerned, have expressed helplessness in dealing with WJ. Their attempts at regulating her behaviour and lifestyle have been largely ignored by WJ, resulting in hr being able to live her life according to her wishes. In addition, WJ had also on one occasion left home after trial time restriction [imposed by probation officer] and had only come home after midnight.” [emphasis mine]

10 In spite of this, the probation officer recommended probation with a year of residence in Gracehaven because the Juvenile had not re-offended in the preceding two years and has indicated an interest to resume her studies.

11 The Court thus adjourned the case for further hearing on 6 November 2007 for the probation officer to determine if the school was willing to reinstate the Juvenile. A supplementary report was called for.

First Supplementary Report

12 According to the supplementary report for Court mention on 6 November 2007 (“the first supplementary report”), the Juvenile’s school was willing to give her a...

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