SINGAPORE - A former sales engineer who was part of an online group that distributed voyeuristic videos taken with hidden cameras was sentenced to six months' jail on Thursday (Oct 5).
Joel Chew Weichen, 27, was the first among five to plead guilty to having 280 obscene films for distribution at his home in Whampoa Drive.
The case came to light after a police report was lodged in November 2016 that films of schoolgirls relieving themselves or trying on clothes in changing rooms, as well as other obscene films, were being circulated on an online discussion site known as Sammyboy Forum.
The court heard that Chew was initially a member of Sammyboy Forum, and subsequently joined a Google group known as SG Horizon Club, as well as LittleSG, a Google group for people to share and download obscene films.
The Sammyboy Forum is a predominantly sex-themed online site that contains hundreds of threads sharing obscene material.
SG Horizon Club was set up late last year by Ali V.P. Mohamed, an unemployed man, for members to share sex-themed films. Applicants who wanted to join had to send a request to the 46-year-old for his approval.
Ali also publicised Horizon on Sammyboy, and encouraged its members to join Horizon.
His case and those of three others - fund accountant Shaun Lee, 28; digital marketing specialist Clarence Tang Jia Ming, 25; and customer service officer Ong Yi Jie, alias Kenneth, 27 - are pending.
Through the three platforms, Chew downloaded and shared videos with other members.
During a raid on Nov 25 last year, police recovered four hard disk drives. Of the 775 films seized, 280 were obscene.
The stated purpose of Horizon, and also of LittleSG, was to facilitate the distribution of obscene or sex-themed films of Singaporeans filmed in Singapore.
The prosecution said many of these were filmed with hidden cameras placed in various places, including toilets in cafes such as Starbucks and McDonald's, schools, offices, bathrooms, changing rooms of popular fashion outlets like Cotton On, and bathroom showers in private homes.
Chew, whose sentence was backdated to Aug 31, 2017, said he was remorseful and voluntarily stayed in remand.
"After three weeks in remand, I reflected a lot and would not like to come back to prison again. I promise Your Honour that this will be the one and only time I will be standing in court again," he told District Judge Prem Raj.
The offence is punishable with a minimum fine of $2,000 per film, up to a maximum of $80,000, or a jail term of up to two years, or both.