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Chief Justice lifts gag order on identity of Singaporean undergrad voyeur from top UK university

SINGAPORE — A 23-year-old Singaporean undergraduate from a top British university, who had filmed voyeuristic videos of almost a dozen female friends, can now be publicly named after the High Court granted the prosecution’s application to lift a gag order on his identity.

Chief Justice lifts gag order on identity of Singaporean undergrad voyeur from top UK university

Colin Chua Yi Jin (left) leaving the State Courts in July 2021.

  • Colin Chua Yi Jin, 23, pleaded guilty in July to taking voyeuristic videos of several female friends from 2015 to 2018
  • He has not been sentenced yet but has been found unsuitable for probation
  • A judge also banned Chua from leaving for the United Kingdom early last year
  • Another judge granted the prosecution’s application to lift the gag order on his identity in July but Chua’s lawyers appealed
  • Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has now lifted the gag order, noting that the victims have unanimously accepted the risk of being identified

 

SINGAPORE — A 23-year-old Singaporean undergraduate from a top British university, who had filmed voyeuristic videos of almost a dozen female friends, can now be publicly named after the High Court granted the prosecution’s application to lift a gag order on his identity.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who presided over the hearing, noted on Friday (Sept 24) that Colin Chua Yi Jin’s 11 victims have consented to the risk of being identified when his name is published.

Many of their faces were visible in the videos Chua had posted online.

Chief Justice Menon stressed that gag orders are imposed to protect victims, not accused persons, and that the victims have spoken up about it doing more harm than good.

The gag order had initially been lifted in the State Courts in July, when Chua pleaded guilty to the offences he committed over three years from 2015 when he was 18 years old.

However, his lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan then appealed against the district judge’s decision.

The gag order will still cover the victims’ identities, their relationship to Chua and the names of the schools they attend, including his university.

‘YOUR CLIENT’S INTEREST COUNTS FOR NOTHING’

Responding to Mr Kalidass' argument that the court did not know if a 12th alleged victim consented to naming Chua, Chief Justice Menon said that the prosecution had recently withdrawn some charges in relation to her so she was not relevant to the case since she was no longer a witness.

“We all know the reason why we have the power to impose gag orders. It’s a detraction from the principle of open justice… because there is another interest: The protection of victims.

“Where the victims have come forward to say, actually, I’m feeling guilty because I may not have been able to help other victims due to the gag order and I have introduced these other victims to the offender, and I’m suffering because I feel I am complicit in this by having to stay quiet — how can we logically extend the gag order in this case?” 

Chief Justice Menon told Mr Kalidass that Chua merely wanted to “take advantage” of the protection that a gag order afforded him.

“Your client's interest counts for nothing. He may not want his identity disclosed but that’s not a relevant factor.”

As far as the court was concerned, he added, the victims had accepted the risk of their own identities being known and wanted to “purge the guilt and fear” that others may suffer and still may be suffering because of the gag order.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo opposed the defence’s application, calling it a “very self-serving” and “borderline frivolous” one. He also sought S$2,000 in costs against Chua.

The chief justice accepted the prosecution’s application for costs, ruling that Chua could “point to no danger of injustice, much less serious injustice” to himself if he was publicly named.

He added that the defence’s application to keep the gag order in place was “brought under the guise of protecting the victims from possible consequences of their names being known or protecting other victims who are unknown”.

“Neither of these grounds pass muster as a point (Chua) can make, because it suggests he was acting altruistically to benefit others when, in truth, he was seeking his own benefit.”

THE CASE

Chua, who has not been sentenced in the State Courts yet, admitted to seven counts of insulting a woman’s modesty and one of possessing obscene videos.

He returned on Monday when the court heard that he was not recommended for probation. The prosecution previously clarified that it would be potentially seeking a jail sentence.

The case has seen a number of twists and turns, notably when the prosecution and defence sparred over whether Chua should be allowed to return to the United Kingdom for his studies. He was ultimately banned from leaving Singapore early last year.

Prosecutors had also applied to lift the gag order at the time, but it was rejected because not all of the victims had agreed then.

Chua struck from 2015 until late 2018, saying he would film the women when he felt stressed from school or work. He began when he was about to graduate from junior college, escalating his acts throughout his National Service and undergraduate days.

In December 2015, he and several friends booked a hotel room after their junior college’s prom night.

He placed a recording device in the toilet and took a 14-minute video of his friend showering. As of August last year, the video could still be found on pornographic websites and has been viewed at least 177,000 times.

A year later, Chua filmed another victim who went to his house for a Christmas gathering.

The clip of the 19-year-old in his toilet circulated on a pornographic website and has been viewed at least 38,000 times.

The police then raided his residence in mid-2019 and seized his electronic devices, containing at least 16 videos and 124 upskirt photographs.

Chua would delete the clips from time to time before recovering the deleted data from his devices. Because of this, investigators could not recover all of the videos he had taken.

Related topics

crime court gag order voyeur upskirt videos pornography

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