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Criminal lawyers in Singapore said age is a key factor


23 April 2019

Criminal Lawyers Commenting on Peeping Tom Case in Singapore

1. Introduction

In the wake of the recent National University of Singapore’s (“NUS”) peeping tom case, criminal lawyers and counsellors said that age is an important factor taken into account by the authorities when deciding to charge an offender.

The perpetrator, a chemical engineering student of the same university, received a 12-month conditional warning from the police for filming a female student showering in Eusoff Hall at the NUS. Conditional warning basically means that the perpetrator will not have a criminal record.

2. What is a Conditional Warning?

In an oral reply to parliamentary questions dated 6 May 2019, titled “Oral Reply to Parliamentary Questions on Sexual Harassment Incidents at Autonomous Universities, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law”, a conditional warning means:

(i) offender has been put on notice,

(ii) he would know that the authorities have enough evidence and are prepared to press charges against him if he does not reform,

(iii) If he commits a fresh offence during this period, he would be liable to be prosecuted for both the current offence and the subsequent fresh or new offence, and

(iv) in other words, he is not let off the hook for the earlier offence, and he will pay for both.

3. Eugene comments in The Straits Times

As the debate rages on online about whether the perpetrator in the NUS Peeping Tom case has been sufficiently dealt with, our lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam reminds us that there are four principles at play when determining an appropriate sentence for an offender: retribution; general deterrence – or deterring the public at large from committing offences; specific deterrence, which refers to deterring a particular individual; and rehabilitation.

As opposed to just peeping, which one may rightfully or wrongfully take the position is youthful folly, there is a certain degree of premeditation in using a phone to make a video recording.

What would be an appropriate outcome in a case like this is therefore not easy to say and is for society to grapple with and come to a consensus on.

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