Man who pleaded guilty to stalking woman gets discharge not amounting to acquittal after bipolar diagnosis

SINGAPORE - A 21-year-old man who had pleaded guilty to stalking a female national athlete - including e-mailing her father and hiring private investigators to film her - had his conviction set aside on Friday (June 24).

After he pleaded guilty on April 14 last year, Toh Wen Jie was assessed by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to be suffering from bipolar disorder.

On Friday, he was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal and issued a conditional warning.

This means the current proceedings will be discontinued but his unlawful stalking charge may be revived if he breaches the conditions of the warning during an 18-month period.

He is not allowed to contact the victim and her family members, and is required to abide by all medical regimes prescribed by his psychiatrist, among other terms.

Toh was originally accused of stalking the young woman for a year and four months between October 2018 and February 2020, including hiring private investigators to track her daily activities, movements and circle of friends.

The prosecutor told the court on Friday that the issue of Toh's mental state was raised after his guilty plea.

He was subsequently assessed by doctors from IMH and diagnosed with bipolar disorder which had contributed to his offending behaviour.

The IMH report stated that Toh had lost contact with reality, harboured delusions of grandeur and could not appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En.

"In light of the fact that the accused might have been of unsound mind when he committed the offence, the prosecution has applied for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal," said DPP Chong.

Toh had allegedly hired private investigators to follow the victim and film her from 7am to 11am each day from Jan 13 to 17, 2020.

He then purportedly sent the victim the videos.

He is also said to have sent her explicit messages, calling her his fiancee, girlfriend and wife.

The court heard earlier that Toh first spotted the victim in 2016 when she was taking part in an event which cannot be named to protect her identity.

He noticed her again in 2018 at the Singapore Youth Olympic Festival.

The victim had never interacted with him and did not know that he was watching her.

From June 8, 2018, he allegedly sent her dozens of messages on Instagram, addressing her by name and indicating that he had been watching her.

Even though the woman told him to stop contacting her, he is said to have gone looking for her at her home and her father's workplace in 2019.

On Sept 10, 2019, the victim and her mother filed a police report and a magistrate's complaint was lodged against Toh.

Mediation was suggested but the victim did not wish to meet Toh at all, and the complaint was closed in November that year.

On Oct 2, 2019, Toh made a written statement to the police that he would not contact the victim or her father.

But he allegedly continued to send the victim hundreds of messages, creating 16 new Instagram handles to do so.

The messages were sexual in nature with threats of violence to anyone who got into a relationship with the woman.

Toh was eventually charged and claimed trial, but he pleaded guilty on the first day of the trial.

For engaging in a course of conduct involving stalking acts, an offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $50,000.

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