NUS Peeping Tom case: Police explain decision not to prosecute culprit

Police said that prosecution, with a possible jail sentence, will likely ruin the entire future of the NUS student involved in the sexual misconduct case.
Police said that prosecution, with a possible jail sentence, will likely ruin the entire future of the NUS student involved in the sexual misconduct case.PHOTO: ST FILE

High chance of rehabilitation among factors for giving him a conditional warning instead

The man who filmed a female student in the shower without her consent was let off with a conditional warning because, among other factors, there was a high chance of his rehabilitation and the police did not want to saddle him with a permanent criminal record.

The police issued a statement yesterday explaining their decision not to prosecute the 23-year-old male undergraduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS), but to give him a conditional warning instead for trespassing and filming the student.

The police said the offender in the case was assessed to have a "high likelihood of rehabilitation, and was remorseful".

"There were also additional factors relating to his conduct which were relevant, such as the absence of other obscene materials in any of his devices," the statement read.

"A prosecution, with a possible jail sentence, will likely ruin his entire future, with a permanent criminal record," it added.

The man was given a conditional warning, which means that if he commits any other criminal offence within 12 months, he can be prosecuted for both the original offence and the subsequent offence.

The man has since been identified as Mr Nicholas Lim by the female student, Ms Monica Baey, and insurer Great Eastern Singapore, where he had been working as a financial representative since last August. He resigned after the company suspended him.

 
 
 

The police yesterday said allegations that the man was not prosecuted because he has influential parents are untrue and that such factors are irrelevant. His father is a driver in the public transport sector and his mother is a housewife.

The police statement comes after members of the public and students called for harsher punishment for Mr Lim, who filmed Ms Baey in a shower at student residence Eusoff Hall last November.

Ms Baey, 23, a third-year NUS communications and new media undergraduate, expressed her frustration on Instagram last week that the perpetrator was merely suspended from school for a semester, banned from entering Eusoff Hall and made to undergo mandatory counselling.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said he had asked the police to clarify their position on the case.

The police explained that in deciding whether to recommend prosecution, they consider factors such as the age of the offender, the likelihood of reoffending or rehabilitation, the extent of remorse shown and whether there are any aggravating factors such as the circulation of the images.

"Where other relevant factors are involved - for example, a prior criminal record, premeditation to evade detection - there will often be a prosecution," they said.

Noting the public discussion surrounding the case, the police said there are two related but separate points. "The first relates to rules to ensure that premises like NUS provide a safe environment, and the second relates to criminal prosecution," they said, adding that they understand NUS is reviewing its rules on how to treat such conduct.

The police and the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) noted public concerns on ensuring that Singapore laws and enforcement sufficiently protect victims and deter would-be offenders, said the police. "Our criminal justice system seeks to temper punishment and deterrence with giving offenders a second chance to reform, based on assessment of the relevant factors."

Police said they were aware that the case was compared with a 2015 case involving a 23-year-old man who was sentenced to 10 weeks in jail for filming a woman showering at Republic Polytechnic (RP).

"The man in the RP case had committed multiple criminal trespass offences, taken deliberate action to avoid detection by covering up the (closed-circuit television cameras) in the vicinity and covering his face with a towel, and did not own up voluntarily but was arrested following police investigations to track him down," they said.

"He was a student of RP and had committed the offences over a period of four months. Hence the police, in consultation with the AGC, prosecuted him in court. The facts in that case are quite different."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2019, with the headline 'Police explain decision not to prosecute culprit '. Print Edition | Subscribe