Former IMH employee who molested patients and insulted colleagues' modesty given jail, caning

SINGAPORE - A member of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) staff repeatedly abused the trust placed in him when he molested patients and insulted his colleagues' modesty at his workplace.

He even recorded videos of himself molesting his victims. The 36-year-old Singaporean also took upskirt videos, including at Canberra MRT station.

He is no longer working at IMH and his details cannot be revealed due to a gag order to protect the victims' identities.

He was sentenced on Monday (Dec 28) to four years, nine months and a week's jail, with 10 strokes of the cane, after pleading guilty to four counts of insulting a woman's modesty.

He also admitted to two counts each of molestation and voyeurism.

Thirty-four other charges for similar offences were considered during sentencing.

He was at work on Sept 6 last year when he spotted a 25-year-old female patient alone in a room, restrained to a hospital bed.

He molested the woman and recorded a video of himself committing the offence.

The court heard that he committed similar acts against a 29-year-old female patient on Nov 21 last year.

He also targeted his colleagues and recorded videos of them while they were changing inside cubicles late last year.

On one occasion last December, he recorded an upskirt video of a colleague while she was performing her rounds in a ward, the court heard.

Even pregnant women were not spared.

He posted an untruthful advertisement on online marketplace Carousell, claiming that expectant mothers would be paid $10 for a "pregnancy photoshoot" for a purported IMH presentation.

A 26-year-old woman responded and he recorded her upskirt videos during the photoshoot near Chinese Gardens on Dec 13 last year while she was not looking.

On separate occasions in February this year, the man used his mobile phone to record videos of two female patients while they were showering.

His offences came to light on March 2 this year.

A 26-year-old woman was going up an escalator at Canberra MRT station at around 7.40am that day when she felt something touching her calf.

She turned around and saw the man standing behind her with a phone in his left hand.

The woman lodged a police report the same morning and officers arrested him at IMH two days later.

They seized two mobile phones from him and the incriminating videos were found on the devices following a forensic investigation.

On Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran urged District Judge Luke Tan to sentence the man to four years and 10 months' jail with 13 strokes of the cane.

The DPP added: "His despicable conduct in committing numerous sexual offences against his colleagues, and patients he had committed to care for, strike at the very ethos of nursing and threatens to grossly taint and mar the efforts of healthcare workers everywhere."

The man was represented by lawyers Mato Kotwani and Ashwin Ganapathy who said he had been diagnosed with voyeuristic disorder.

The lawyers pleaded for their client to be given a lighter sentence, adding: "Although the IMH report indicated that there was no contributory link between his disorder and his offence, we submit that this is still relevant to a limited degree."

For each count of molestation, an offender can be jailed for up to two years and fined or caned.

For each count of insulting a woman's modesty, an offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined.

In a statement, IMH said it dismissed the man on March 11. "IMH takes a serious view of the incident and staff conduct, and had fully cooperated with the police in their investigations," its spokesman said.

"We had also reached out to the affected staff and patients, addressed their concerns, and provided support to them. Following the charge in court, we have reminded all staff to adhere to the hospital’s code of conduct. We also further tightened our protocol for staff working in mixed-gender wards.”