CJ dismisses appeal for higher sentence for man with fetish

Appeal by the Prosecution dismissed

1. Introduction

An offender faced three charges of simple theft under section 379 of the Penal Code. The items involved are all ladies’ wallets. No loss was occasioned to any of the victims, who all had their possessions returned to them whole and intact almost immediately after each of the incidents.

The offender had not committed the offences for monetary gain, because he has a psychiatric affliction. The offender was diagnosed with Fetishism. The offender would steal a victim’s wallet, go to a public toilet cubicle, smell the wallet and sexually gratify himself. At times, he would use the money but not the credit cards found in the stolen wallet. He would then throw away the stolen wallets.

The offender has served multiple imprisonment terms for these offences, as well as a period of 10 years in preventive detention.

2. Background

The offender who previously stole leather wallets from unsuspecting women to fulfil his fetish, steals again.

But this time, he returns the wallet out of guilt, and does not use it to satisfy his fetish, which he used to do.

He also seeks treatment to learn how to cope with his fetish.

Alas, he re-offends twice more while this is ongoing.

How should the court deal with an offender such as this, who is struggling to cope with a disorder?

3. Jing Yen was quoted in Channel News Asia

The Chief Justice agreed with our submissions, and dismissed the appeal by the prosecution against the sentence which we had earlier persuaded the District Judge to impose. Of particular significance was that (1) no harm was caused by the offender’s actions; and (2) he was making clear efforts at rehabilitation.

Chooi Jing Yen, the offender’s criminal defence lawyer, told CNA

[the accused]’s fetishism and depression had a “direct and palpable impact” on his impulses.

The first instance decision is reported at Public Prosecutor v Low Ji Qing [2018] SGMC 85.

Both hearings were successfully argued by Chooi Jing Yen.