Fined for trying to influence witness' testimony in court

Ng was fined $6,000; the judge felt that a high fine was sufficient even though the prosecution sought a jail sentence.
Ng was fined $6,000; the judge felt that a high fine was sufficient even though the prosecution sought a jail sentence.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

An operations manager of a bus chartering firm who sent SMS messages to a prosecution witness, in a bid to influence her testimony in court, was fined $6,000 yesterday.

Ng Ang Heng, 59, who works for Sin U Lian Travel & Coach, admitted trying to pervert the course of justice during the trial of his colleague Xu Yajie at the State Courts on April 28 last year.

He sent messages through another colleague Toh Lee Hong to the witness, Ms Xu Xiaona, telling her to give a specific testimony.

The court heard last month that on Jan 14, 2014, enforcement officers stopped a private bus along the Pan-Island Expressway and caught the driver driving without a vocational licence.

Land Transport Authority investigations showed it was Sin U Lian's human resource head Xu Yajie who interviewed and hired the driver without the valid licence. Charges were brought against her.

On the day of Yajie's trial on April 28 last year, Ng met Ms Xu Xiaona in court and realised she was a witness. Worried about the testimony she would give, Ng wanted to tell her it was him who made the final decision to hire the driver.

Just before noon, Ng sent a series of text messages in Chinese to Ms Toh, an accounts executive of the company, and asked her to forward them to Ms Xu.

They informed Ms Xu to say that Ng, and no one else, was in charge of hiring and paying staff.

Ms Xu did not agree with the content of the text messages and did not testify accordingly.

Yajie was later acquitted after the trial.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmin Kaur said Ng's actions showed a complete disregard for the court's jurisdiction, and argued that the custodial threshold was crossed in this case. The DPP had sought a jail sentence of six to eight weeks to be imposed.

But District Judge Kessler Soh felt that a high fine was sufficient.

He said Ng believed what he was telling the witness was the truth. There was no threat or coercion, he said. Ng did not do anything for his own benefit and neither did he succeed in getting the witness to change her testimony.

Ng, represented by Mr S.K. Kumar, could have been jailed for up to 31/2 years and/or fined for the offence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2016, with the headline 'Fined for trying to influence witness' testimony in court'. Print Edition | Subscribe