Public Prosecutor v YM

CourtJuvenile Court (Singapore)
JudgeLim Keng Yeow
Judgment Date07 November 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] SGJC 6
Citation[2008] SGJC 6
Publication Date22 November 2008
Plaintiff CounselINSP Ting Nge Kong
Defendant CounselJiang Ke-Yue (Lee & Lee)

[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]

7 November 2008

District Judge Lim Keng Yeow:

1. On 6 August 2008, YM (“the juvenile”) pleaded guilty to an offence of theft under Section 380 of the Penal Code, Cap 224 (“PC”).

2. On 7 October 2008, I made the following orders:

(1) The juvenile to be sent to Gracehaven, an approved school, for a period of 2 years;

(2) The juvenile is to continue with follow-up treatment at the Child Guidance Clinic;

(3) The parents are mandated to undergo counselling and to enter into a bond of $1,000 each to comply with that order; and

(4) The parents to execute a bond of $2,000 each to exercise proper care and guardianship.

3. The juvenile has an antecedent offence of theft. For that offence, she was placed in Gracehaven under an approved school order for 3 years with effect from 13 June 2006 (“the June 2006 order”). The instant offence was committed on 31 May 2008 while the juvenile was still under the June 2006 order. As the June 2006 order is still in operation, the effect of the fresh 2-year order made on 7 October 2008 is that the juvenile’s stay at Gracehaven would be extended by 15 months and 25 days (including the end date) from 12 June 2009, the date the June 2006 order expires. A table showing the chronology of events is provided in Annex A.

Retraction of plea of guilt

4. Although the appeal now filed on behalf of the juvenile is directed at the ‘sentence’ i.e. the fresh order made on 7 October 2008, it is probably fitting to mention briefly that the juvenile did, through her counsel, attempt to retract her plea of guilt. I gave regard to counsel’s and the Prosecuting Officer’s submissions, the Progress Report and Supplementary Report, Ganesun s/o Kannan v PP [1996] 3 SLR 560 which was referred to me by counsel, and also the following cases not referred to me: Koh Thian Huat v PP [2002] 3 SLR 28, Packir Malim v PP [1997] 3 SLR 429. I found that the juvenile’s plea of guilt was valid, unequivocal and voluntary. The juvenile herself confirmed that she wished to plead guilty, indicated that she understood the nature and consequences of her plea, and admitted without qualification the facts tendered by the Prosecution. I rejected the application for the plea to be retracted and proceeded to make orders against the juvenile.

The options open to the court

5. Where a juvenile undergoing an approved school order re-offends and is to be dealt with, section 44(6) of the Children and Young Persons Act, Cap 38 (“CYPA”) applies. It provides as follows:

Where an offender, while being detained in a place of detention or an approved school pursuant to an order under subsection (1)(g) or (i), is found guilty of another offence by the Juvenile Court, the Court may, instead of making a fresh order against the offender under subsection (1)(g) or (i), extend the period of detention that is being served by the offender [italics added].

6. The use of the word “may” in this provision seems to allow two possible options:

(1) The court may make a fresh order under section 44(1) CYPA; or

(2) The court may extend the existing approved school order under section 44(6) CYPA.

7. On 7 October 2008, I initially made an order for “Rehabilitation at Gracehaven to continue”. However, that order was one that could not be made as it was not an option open to the court under section 44 CYPA. An error has arisen. As mentioned above, an order under section 44(1) or (6) had to be made. Upon further consideration and review of the reports before me, the matter was re-mentioned on the same day. I exercised my powers under section 217(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, Cap 68 (“CPC”) to correct the error and to make an order both in accordance with section 44 CYPA and sufficient to address the court’s concerns over the rehabilitation of the juvenile.

8. In this regard, PP v Oh Hu Sung [2003] 4 SLR 541 is pertinent. Yong CJ held there that the word “mistake” in section 217(2) CPC is construed expansively, covering errors of law and errors of fact. It was also further re-affirmed that correction of the mistake could be made anytime before the court’s working day had ended. Hence, although the court on 7 Oct 2008 may have been regarded as functus officio upon making the order the first time, it is my view that there was an error in that order and the...

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