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Judge reverses decision, bans S'porean accused of filming women in toilets from leaving for studies at top UK varsity

SINGAPORE — In the latest twist to a high-profile case, a 22-year-old Singaporean undergraduate from a top British university was banned on Thursday (Jan 16) from leaving the country to continue his studies. This is barely a week after a district judge allowed him to do so.

Judge reverses decision, bans S'porean accused of filming women in toilets from leaving for studies at top UK varsity

Prosecutors produced phone text messages as new evidence to show that the accused had cooked up a plan to abscond.

SINGAPORE — In the latest twist to a high-profile case, a 22-year-old Singaporean undergraduate from a top British university was banned on Thursday (Jan 16) from leaving the country to continue his studies. This is barely a week after a district judge allowed him to do so.

The student, who is accused of filming women in toilets, returned to court two days after lawyers argued over two issues: Whether the judge should reverse his decision to allow him to travel overseas, and if the court order prohibiting his name from being published should be lifted.

District Judge Adam Nakhoda ruled on Thursday that the gag order — which protects his alleged victims’ identities and extends to the accused man who is known to the women — should remain.

The university he attends cannot be named as well.

Out of his 12 alleged victims, 10 of them wanted his identity published.

Prosecutors have said that for the remaining two, one “expressed some reservations”, while the last one — a 16-year-old minor — was not consulted at her family’s request.

This means that at least two victims have not consented to the risk that their identities could be exposed, District Judge Nakhoda said.

“I agree that the victims' consent to the accused’s identity being disclosed does not amount to the victims waiving their rights to anonymity.

“It is a case of them accepting the risks that their identities may be exposed if the identity of the accused is made known,” the judge said.

“However, I decline to lift the gag order over the accused’s name because there are still two victims who have not unequivocally agreed to the risk that their identities will become known.”

As for the reason why he revoked an order he previously gave for the accused to leave Singapore, District Judge Nakhoda said that he agrees with the prosecution that the newly produced log of phone text messages between the accused and one of his friends showed that the man was “predisposed towards absconding” and should therefore be considered a high flight risk.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS SO FAR

Oct 2, 2019: The man appears in court for the first time and is charged with two counts of filming two women in toilets — allegedly at an Orchard Hotel room in 2015, when he was aged 18, and at his Bukit Timah condominium in 2016. 

District Judge Nakhoda grants his first application to continue studying abroad. The prosecution does not oppose this.

Jan 3, 2020: He is charged with 18 more offences, including one of possessing an obscene film. The number of alleged victims balloons to 12, including a 15-year-old minor.

Besides that, he is also charged with filming up a woman’s skirt in 2018 as she rode an escalator towards the exit of King Albert Park MRT Station.

The accused tells the court that he intends to claim trial to all 20 charges.

Jan 8: He applies a second time to leave the country for his second university term. Prosecutors object to it this time, calling him a “clear flight risk” and arguing that his family is wealthy enough to let him live comfortably abroad should he abscond.

He is accused of committing the offences over more than three years and planting a camera in his condominium to secretly take most of the videos. 

At least two of the 20 offending videos were found to be circulating online, while he himself appeared in two of the videos, prosecutors say.

Jan 10: The judge grants the application by the accused. Among the reasons for doing so is that he already knew in October that he could face further charges, but returned to Singapore anyway. 

There is also no evidence to substantiate the claim that his family has the means to support him as a fugitive, the judge said. Deputy Public Prosecutors Foo Shi Hao and Tan Zhi Hao tell the court they will file a High Court motion to try to overturn the decision.

Between Jan 10 and 14: One of the friends of the accused, who turned out to be one of the alleged victims, gives the police copies of phone text messages he sent her. She does so after reading news reports.

Jan 14: Prosecutors produce the text messages as new evidence in a bid to persuade District Judge Nakhoda to change his mind, arguing that the accused had cooked up a “master plan” to abscond. 

However, his lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan argues that his client had been planning to commit suicide.

Jan 16: District Judge Nakhoda revokes the student’s application to leave the country, but disallowed the prosecution’s application to lift the gag order on his identity.

Related topics

upskirt voyeurism flight risk court crime

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