SINGAPORE - A Singaporean who allegedly took videos of women inside toilets here will not be allowed to return to Britain to continue his undergraduate studies at a top university.
This was decided by District Judge Adam Nakhoda on Thursday (Jan 16), who also ruled that the 22-year-old's identity will continue to be gagged by the court in order to protect his alleged victims.
In brief remarks on his decision, the judge said the text messages produced by the prosecution of a conversation between the student and a friend indicated that the former was contemplating remaining overseas.
As this suggested that the accused is a flight risk, the judge revoked permission granted earlier for the accused to leave Singapore to resume his studies.
The accused had made the application on Jan 8, which the judge approved on Friday (Jan 10). The prosecution opposed the decision on Tuesday (Jan 14).
The prosecution had cited text messages that were made known to them after last Friday, in which the accused had discussed plans with a "trusted friend" to abscond and seek asylum in another country.
The conversation took place on Oct 2 last year, before the friend found out that she was among the 12 alleged victims.
In the messages, the accused talked about a "masterplan" involving seeking asylum in another country.
In one of the messages, he said: "I could stay here, but that would be a certain metaphorical death."
When the friend asked if he was certain he would be granted asylum, he replied: "Well, that's in the masterplan."
He also talked about a "decision-making rubric". "Stay for certain destruction... Or leave, and everything is uncertain, but potentially averting this problem," he told the friend.
These messages, taken objectively, do not indicate that the accused was - as his lawyer, Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, had contended - referring to committing suicide, said the judge.
On Tuesday, prosecutors also requested the court to lift the gag order on the accused's identity issued when he was first charged in October last year, arguing that it is in the public interest for his identity to be made known.
The man was first charged with two counts of insulting a woman's modesty by allegedly filming women using the toilet and taking a shower.
Now, he faces a total of 19 counts of insulting a woman's modesty and one count of possession of obscene films.
He allegedly committed the offences as far back as Dec 2, 2015, at various locations, including a condominium apartment in Bukit Timah.
So far, 12 women have been identified as his alleged victims.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhi Hao had asked the court on Tuesday to consider allowing the accused's identity to be published by the media, without revealing the nature of his relationships with the 12 women.
He added that out of the 12 victims, 10 have requested that the accused be named.
Of the remaining two women, one was hesitant, while the other has not been consulted at the request of her family, said DPP Tan.
On Thursday, the judge said while the 10 women have said they are willing to take the risk that they could be identified if the accused is identified, he noted that two other alleged victims have not given their consent.
"The primary purpose of the gag order being extended to the identity of the accused... is to protect the identity of the victims... because there was a chance that the identity of victims could be exposed," said District Judge Nakhoda.
Based on the circumstances and locations of the alleged offences, it is likely that the victims could be identified by the public or those around them if the accused's identity were to be revealed.
As such, the judge said he decided to maintain the gag order as the two victims have not "unequivocally agreed" to taking the risk of being identified if the accused is named.