High Court upholds 14-day detention order for SMU grad

He had filmed woman in toilet; judge rejects prosecution's appeal for 8-week jail term, says order has deterrent effect

The High Court yesterday upheld a short detention order handed down last year to a Singapore Management University (SMU) graduate for filming a woman in the toilet.

Dismissing the prosecution's appeal for an eight-week jail term, Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang said that a short detention order meant that Hoon Qi Tong, now 25, still has to go to prison for 14 days.

Such an order has a deterrent and retributive effect, even though it is a community-based sentencing option, said the judge.

Justice Tay noted that Hoon, who has graduated and has an office job, was also ordered to perform 130 hours of community service.

The judge said this would help in rehabilitation by making Hoon contribute to the good of society "while serving as a constant reminder to him that he has done wrong and must change".

He pointed out that if Hoon breaches the community service order, he can be re-sentenced for the offence.

Justice Tay called it a "difficult case" in which the right balance had to be achieved between the conflicting interests of a victim who was badly affected by the invasion of her privacy and the rehabilitation of an offender who had taken steps to change.

The court heard that after his arrest, Hoon sought help from the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous Singapore association and the National Addictions Management Service at the Institute of Mental Health.

On Sept 13, 2017, Hoon, then 23 and a third-year finance student on an internship, followed his 31-year-old colleague to the toilet when she left her desk.

He went into the cubicle next to the one she was using, and positioned his mobile phone over the partition to film her.

When she looked up and saw the phone, she immediately dressed herself and confronted Hoon.

Justice Tay called it a "difficult case" in which the right balance had to be achieved between the conflicting interests of a victim who was badly affected by the invasion of her privacy and the rehabilitation of an offender who had taken steps to change... After his arrest, Hoon sought help from the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous Singapore association and the National Addictions Management Service.

 
 
 
 

She told him to delete the video, and he formatted his phone and erased all the data.

On Feb 11 last year, Hoon pleaded guilty to a charge of insulting a woman's modesty.

Various reports were called, and he was found suitable for probation.

On Dec 19 last year, a district judge ordered him to be detained in prison for 14 days and to perform 130 hours of community service.

The prosecution filed an appeal against the sentence the next day.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Terence Chua argued that a community-based sentence was not justified for an adult who committed a premeditated and "highly intrusive" sexual offence.

He said the incident left an indelible mark on the victim, who is now fearful when using a public toilet.

Hoon's lawyer, Mr Mark Lee, argued that a short detention order carries a punitive and deterrent element.

Justice Tay said that Hoon's behaviour was more opportunistic than premeditated, when compared with a past case in which the offender installed a mini-camera on his shoe to take upskirt videos and planted a hidden camera in the toilet.

Hoon started serving his detention after the hearing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2020, with the headline 'High Court upholds 14-day detention order for SMU grad'. Print Edition | Subscribe