Serial 'upskirter' jailed seven months for insulting modesty

SINGAPORE - A serial voyeur was jailed for seven months on Monday (Nov 6) after committing more than 70 offences of insulting and attempting to insult the modesty of a woman.

Former engineer Samuel Ong Huixiang, 28, had admitted to 15 charges of intruding into the privacy of women in February 2017. Another 58 similar charges were taken into consideration in sentencing the now unemployed man.

Investigation showed that Ong had been filming upskirt videos of numerous unsuspecting women from late 2014 until August 2015.

Police arrested him in an ambush on Sept 30, 2015, and seized three electronic devices from his home at Elias Road.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Winston Man said that Ong's modus operandi was to hold either a mobile phone or an iPad in his hand, and switch on the video recording mode, before deliberately moving near his intended victim to record the upskirt videos.

In one case, he was sitting opposite a 25-year-old woman on the MRT train from City Hall to Pasir Ris when he recorded two videos of her without her knowledge. This happened on Aug 11, 2015.

The court heard that he continued to tail her when she alighted at the Pasir Ris MRT station. When she arrived at a block along Pasir Ris Street 51, he closed the distance between them and took an upskirt video of her.

She turned around when she heard his footsteps and recognised Ong as the person who had sat opposite her in the same train. She shouted at him and he fled.

Ong had committed the offences at a number of places including NTUC FairPrice outlet at White Sands, Nanyang Technological University, Art Friend at Bras Basah Complex, The Esplanade and CityLink mall.

The court heard that he had also filmed a woman taking a shower at a female toilet cubicle at West Coast Park on Aug 7, 2015.

Pressing for at least 28 weeks' jail to be imposed, DPP Man told District Judge Kenneth Yap that Ong had violated the privacy of numerous victims no less than 73 times over the course of more than a year.

Such acts, he argued, were extremely difficult to detect and must be adequately sanctioned when brought before the courts. He added that Ong had been given a chance when he was placed on probation for similar offences in 2008, and had not learnt his lesson.

An Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist said Ong "exhibited a significant degree of premeditation by taking calculated risks and selecting his victims carefully".

"In the present case, there is no discernible psychiatric condition, let alone one that robs the accused of his self-control," said DPP Man.

Pleading for leniency, Ong's lawyer Peter Ong Lip Cheng said that his client had been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder since 2009. He had a relapse 21/2 years later when he stopped his medication.

He said Ong realised his folly, was truly remorseful and deeply regretted letting his family down. He has learnt a "very valuable" lesson and will continue with his treatment after his release.

The maximum penalty for insulting the modesty of a woman is one year's jail and a fine.