Doctor fails in bid to have conviction relooked but is allowed to defer jail term

Medical doctor Winston Lee Siew Boon, who was convicted and sentenced last year for molesting a patient, had his appeal denied on Monday (Nov 30).
Medical doctor Winston Lee Siew Boon, who was convicted and sentenced last year for molesting a patient, had his appeal denied on Monday (Nov 30). PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Medical doctor Winston Lee Siew Boon, 71, was allowed to start serving his 10-month jail term for molesting a patient on Jan 4 next year by the Court of Appeal on Monday (Nov 30).

This came after the three-judge court turned down his bid to get the judges to re-assess his conviction through a procedure known as criminal reference.

In a criminal reference, the accused or prosecution can raise important questions of law of public interest to the Court of Appeal for it to make a definitive ruling.

Lee, a doctor for 40 years and is known as a motoring writer, was convicted and sentenced last year by a district court for touching the breast of a patient.

His appeal to the High Court was dismissed in July and he was allowed to start serving his jail term on Aug 17.

But Lee, represented by Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, took his case to the Court of Appeal, seeking a ruling on questions relating to how the defence may rebut the presumption that the prosecution has complied with its duty of disclosure during trial.

Yesterday, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who delivered the decision of the court, which also comprised Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang, pointed out that there is only one level of appeal in Singapore's legal system.

While there is a procedure to take the case higher, there are clear limitations of this right so that the single tier of appeal does not become a system of two tiers, said CJ Menon.

The court dismissed the application, finding that the case did not raise a question of law of public interest.

Lee then sought to defer the start of sentence as his wife was sick and, also, in light of the upcoming holidays. The prosecution did not object.