Yusof bin A Samad v Public Prosecutor

Judgment Date04 September 2000
Date04 September 2000
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 341 of 1999
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Yusof bin A Samad
Public Prosecutor

[2000] SGHC 181

Yong Pung How CJ

Magistrate's Appeal No 341 of 1999

High Court

Criminal Law–Offences–Corruption–Police hearse driver receiving gratification from undertaker for confidential information on deceased persons–Whether supply of confidential information “showing of favour” in relation to principal's affairs–Section 6 (a)Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Rev Ed)–Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Statements–Admissibility–Voluntariness–Accused subject to persistent questioning–Accused told to get counsel to write to Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau superiors–Whether statements voluntary–Whether objectively there was threat–Whether subjectively accused felt threatened–Whether objectively there was inducement or promise–Whether subjectively accused felt induced–Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Trials–Procedural irregularity–No ruling made on impeachment of witness–Whether failure of justice occasioned–Section 396 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed)–Evidence–Proof of evidence–Confessions–Admissibility–Statements to non-police officers–Statements to CPIB officers investigating corruption offences–Whether statements confessions–Evidence–Proof of evidence–Confessions–Two separate statements amounting to confessions conflicting–Confessions retracted–Whether trial judge right in according weight to second statement–Whether retracted confessions could be relied upon

The appellant was a police corporal who was charged and convicted of 14 charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Rev Ed) (“PCA”) for supplying information on the next of kin of deceased persons to an undertaker. On appeal, he raised four issues. First, he argued that the pre-trial statements he had given were not given voluntarily and should not have been admitted. The appellant alleged that he was subjected to persistent questioning and had made the statement when he was “stressed and down” and that he had made it whilst labouring under an inducement or promise held out by the investigating officer that he would not be prosecuted. Second, even if the statements were correctly admitted, the judge erred in his assessment of their inherent reliability and accuracy. Third, the judge erred in his assessment of the veracity of the witnesses. And fourth, even if the appellant had supplied the relevant information to the undertaker that did not constitute “a showing of favour in relation to his principal's affairs” as required under s 6 (a) of the PCA.

Held, dismissing the appeal:

(1) Both the appellant's pre-trial statements amounted to confessions under s 17 of the Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed) (“EA”) and were therefore subject to the voluntariness test in s 24 of the EA. As the appellant made the statements to non-police officers, the EA governed the admissibility of the statements, and the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) (“CPC”) did not apply. The appropriate test for determining admissibility of a statement, made by an accused person to a non-police officer, depended on whether the statement amounted to a confession. In this case, both statements were “confessions”, because taken as a whole and without reference to extrinsic facts, they suggested the inference that the appellant had corruptly received gratification in return for releasing relevant information: at [11], [12], [17], [18] and [19].

(2) The first statement was not involuntary and was properly admitted. A statement was considered involuntary if there was objectively a threat, inducement or promise, and the threat, inducement or promise operated subjectively on the mind of the particular accused through hope of escape or fear of punishment connected with the charge. There was no evidence that oppressive cross-examination techniques had been employed: at [21] and [22].

(3) The second statement was also not involuntary and was properly admitted. The investigating officer did not hold out any inducement or promise to the appellant: at [25] and [27].

(4) The district judge was not wrong in ruling that the second statement contained the true version of evidence. The two statements were not totally irreconcilable and although the appellant tried to retract his statements at trial, the district judge was entitled to rely on them: at [30].

(5) The district judge did not err in his assessment of the veracity of the witnesses although he made a procedural error in not making a ruling on the impeachment of the undertaker. However, the procedural error did not occasion a failure of justice and as such, it was appropriate for the court to overlook it: at [35].

(6) The supply of the relevant information constituted a “showing of favour” in relation to the principal's affairs. The appellant was an “agent”, as defined in s 2 of the PCA, and his act of releasing confidential information obtained in the course of his official duties which were clearly acts in relation to the police force's affairs. The appellant had also clearly shown favour to the undertaker. By releasing the relevant information to the undertaker, he was in effect supplying the undertaker with a constant flow of clients in return for a fee: at [40].

(7) Neither s 122 (5) of the CPC, nor s 24 of the EA, applied to a statement not amounting to a confession, made by an accused to non-police officers. There was, in fact, no statutory provision subjecting the admissibility of such a statement to the requirement of voluntariness. Thus if such a statement was relevant, it was prima facie admissible. Strictly speaking, where a court was faced with a statement made by an accused person to a non-police officer, which was relevant and admissible, and the court was certain that the statement did not amount to a confession, a voir dire need not be conducted. However, as a matter of prudence and good practice, a court should still conduct voir dires to determine the voluntariness of such statements: at [12].

Anandagoda v R [1962] MLJ 289; [1962] 1 WLR 817 (folld)

Chai Chien Wei Kelvin v PP [1998] 3 SLR (R) 619; [1999] 1 SLR 25 (folld)

Chan Wing Seng v PP [1997] 1 SLR (R) 721; [1997] 2 SLR 426 (refd)

Cheng Swee Tiang v Public Prosecutor [1964] MLJ 291 (refd)

Chin Seow Noi v PP [1993] 3 SLR (R) 566; [1994] 1 SLR 135 (folld)

Choo Pit Hong Peter v PP [1995] 1 SLR (R) 834; [1995] 2 SLR 255 (refd)

Dato Mokhtar bin Hashim v Public Prosecutor [1983] 2 MLJ 232 (refd)

Ismail bin U K Abdul Rahman v PP [1974-1976] SLR (R) 91; [1972-1974] SLR 232 (folld)

Koh Aik Siew v PP [1993] 1 SLR (R) 885; [1993] 2 SLR 599 (refd)

Kwang Boon Keong Peter v PP [1998] 2 SLR (R) 211; [1998] 2 SLR 592 (folld)

Lim Young Sien v PP [1994] 1 SLR (R) 920; [1994] 2 SLR 257 (refd)

Md Desa bin Hashim v Public Prosecutor [1995] 3 MLJ 350 (refd)

Mohamed Ali bin Mohamed Iqbal v PP [1979-1980] SLR (R) 45; [1978-1979] SLR 447 (folld)

Mohamed Bachu Miah v PP [1992] 2 SLR (R) 783; [1993] 1 SLR 249 (folld)

Panya Martmontree v PP [1995] 2 SLR (R) 806; [1995] 3 SLR 341 (folld)

PP v Abdul Rashid [1993] 2 SLR (R) 848; [1993] 3 SLR 794 (folld)

PP v Har Su Meng [1997] 2 SLR (R) 511; [1997] 3 SLR 332 (refd)

PP v Heah Lian Khin [2000] 2 SLR (R) 745; [2000] 3 SLR 609 (folld)

PP v Low Tiong Choon [1998] 2 SLR (R) 119; [1998] 2 SLR 878 (distd)

Seow Choon Meng v PP [1994] 2 SLR (R) 338; [1994] 2 SLR 853 (folld)

Sim Ah Cheoh v PP [1991] 1 SLR (R) 961; [1991] SLR 150 (folld)

Sim Cheng Yong v PP [1994] 1 SLR (R) 689; [1994] 1 SLR 722 (refd)

Tan Choon Huat v PP [1991] 1 SLR (R) 863; [1991] SLR 805 (folld)

Tan Siew Chay v PP [1993] 1 SLR (R) 267; [1993] 2 SLR 14 (folld)

Tan Tze Chye v PP [1996] 3 SLR (R) 357; [1997] 1 SLR 134 (refd)

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) s 396 (consd);ss 122, 122 (5), 147

Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed) ss 5-16, 17 (1), 17 (2), 24

Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 104, 1970 Rev Ed) s 6 (a)

Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Rev Ed) s 6 (a) (consd);ss 2, 17

M Amaladass (M Dass & Co) for the appellant

Jennifer Marie and Aedit Abdullah (Deputy Public Prosecutors) for the respondent.

Yong Pung How CJ


1 The appellant, a former police officer, was convicted in the District Court under s 6 (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241) (“PCA”) on 14 counts of corruption. He was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment on each charge, with the first two sentences running consecutively. Being dissatisfied with his conviction and sentences, he appealed to me. I dismissed his appeal, and I now set forth my reasons.


2 The Prosecution alleged that on 14 occasions, between August 1995 and March 1997, the appellant had corruptly accepted gratification amounting to some $10,900 from one Roland Tay Hai Choon (“DW2”), in return for supplying the latter with confidential information which he had obtained in the course of his duties as a police hearse driver. At the relevant times, the appellant was a corporal in the Singapore Police Force, and also the designated police hearse driver. When the police hearse was required, the Police Activation Division would radio him with the necessary information relating to the location of the dead bodies. His duties were to transport workers, engaged by the police to remove bodies, to the given location, and then to convey the bodies to the mortuary. The confidential information which he had allegedly released to DW2 were the names and addresses of the deceased persons that he transported in the police hearse, and the contact numbers and names of those deceased persons' next of kin (“the relevant information”). The relevant information enabled DW2, who owned an undertaking business, to solicit business from the next of kin.

3 To establish their case, the Prosecution relied heavily on two pre-trial statements (“the statements”) which the appellant had made to the Corrupt Practices...

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