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Prosecutors head to High Court to try to stop alleged voyeur leaving S’pore to study at top UK varsity

SINGAPORE — Prosecutors are heading to the High Court to try to stop a man accused of indecently filming at least 11 female victims from leaving Singapore to continue his studies at a top British university.

The 22-year-old man has claimed trial over allegations he indecently filmed at least 11 female victims, including a 15-year-old girl.

The 22-year-old man has claimed trial over allegations he indecently filmed at least 11 female victims, including a 15-year-old girl.

SINGAPORE — Prosecutors are heading to the High Court to try to stop a 22-year-old man accused of indecently filming at least 11 female victims from leaving Singapore to continue his studies at a top British university.

In the State Courts on Friday (Jan 10), District Judge Adam Nakhoda granted the man’s application to travel out of Singapore, ruling that it was “reasonable” to allow him to continue his studies for at least one term.

But Deputy Public Prosecutors Foo Shi Hao and Tan Zhi Hao — who argue the man poses a flight risk and may abscond — immediately sought and obtained a stay of the ruling, and said they would file a motion in the High Court to seek to overturn the decision.

The accused man cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the identities of his female victims. The university cannot be named either, as this could identify the man.

He has claimed trial to 19 counts of outraging the modesty of his alleged female victims, including one who was 15 years old. He also faces one count of possessing an obscene film.

Some of the videos he allegedly filmed in places like toilets are circulating online, and some include both the faces and private parts of the alleged victims, the prosecutors told an earlier hearing on Wednesday.

The DPPs submitted that the man faced serious allegations likely to result in a jail term if he is convicted, and that he posed a flight risk given that he came from a family of substantial means and could live comfortably abroad if he absconded.

“Coupled with the strong likelihood that the custodial threshold is crossed in the present case, we submit that the threat of imminent incarceration further incentivises the accused to abscond,” they stated in written submissions at the hearing on Wednesday.

In his remarks explaining his decision on Friday, Judge Nakhoda said he had no doubt that the alleged offences were serious in nature and in the event that the man is convicted, he would be dealt with as an adult.

However, while the prosecution had made a reasonable case to suggest that the accused man might ultimately be found guilty, the judge said that it is the man’s right to contest the allegations at a trial.

Yet, he added, a trial hearing is evidently not ready — no pre-trial conference has been convened so far.

It is unlikely that a trial would be ready to be heard in short order, said the judge.

In suggesting that the man was likely to abscond, the prosecution had previously noted that his family had been able to afford the financial cost of his three-year undergraduate education in history, which required the payment of fees of around £111,270 (S$200,000).

“Given the above, the accused is able to live comfortably overseas. In the circumstances, there is little motivation for the accused to return if he is allowed to leave the jurisdiction,” they had argued.

On Friday, the judge noted that this was the man’s second application to leave Singapore in order to study abroad amid the court proceedings.

The prosecution had not objected to the first application in October 2019. The man, who currently faces 20 charges in total, had faced only two charges at the time of the October hearing. He was slapped with the additional 18 charges on Jan 3.

The judge said that the man was told then that he could face further charges, and he “did not abscond even though he had ample opportunity to do so”. There is also no evidence to substantiate the claim that his family has the means to support him as a fugitive, the judge said.

The judge then allowed the application for the man to leave Singapore, stating that if the trial is fixed after the academic term ends, it would be incumbent on him to return to Singapore to attend the trial.

However, the man will not be able to leave the country at least until the High Court motion to be filed by the prosecution is dealt with.

The case has been adjourned until Jan 28.

 

Related topics

voyeurism upskirt flight risk

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