No appeal against sentence in underage sex case of Joshua Robinson: AGC

The Attorney-General's Chambers will not be appealing against mixed martial arts instructor Joshua Robinson's four-year jail term. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) will not be appealing against mixed martial arts instructor Joshua Robinson's four-year jail term, it said on Wednesday (March 8).

The announcement comes after Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam noted "public disquiet" over the incident on Monday and said that it was looking into the case.

The 39-year-old instructor had pleaded guilty to making obscene films, having consensual sex with two 15-year-old girls and showing an obscene clip to a six-year-old girl.

Robinson's sentence last Thursday has generated strong reactions, with an online petition attracting over 26,000 signatures to date. It called the sentence "unacceptable and absolutely intolerable".

In a statement, the AGC gave the reasons for its decision not to appeal the sentence.

It said that the prosecution had sought a total sentence of four to five years' imprisonment and this was made known to the defence counsel and to the District Court at a pre-trial conference in September 2016.

The prosecution's sentencing position was conveyed to Robinson before he made his decision in December 2016 to plead guilty. In arriving at this sentencing position, the prosecution took into account, among other things, the fact that by securing a guilty plea, the three young victims would be spared the trauma of having to testify and be cross-examined in a trial.

Referring to public comments that Robinson committed "sexual assaults", that he should have been charged with rape or statutory rape and should have been caned, the AGC clarified that as the two victims were above 14 years old at the time of the sexual acts, the offence of statutory rape was not committed.

Under the law, having sex with a minor below the age of 14 is recognised as statutory rape.

As the victims had consented to the sexual acts, Robinson could not be charged with rape and outrage of modesty. By the same token, these were not cases of sexual assault.

The AGC said Robinson was charged with the offence of sexual penetration of a minor under 16 years of age, punishable under section 376A(2) of the Penal Code. It said that this was the most serious charge that the prosecution could have brought on the case.

It added that while caning is provided for the offence under section 376A(3) of the Penal Code for sexual penetration of a minor under 14 years old, caning is not provided for any of the offences Robinson was charged with.

The sentences imposed on Robinson were broadly in line with relevant sentencing precedents.

The AGC said that in the light of the sentencing position which the prosecution had conveyed to Robinson and the fact that his plea of guilt had spared the victims from the ordeal of a trial, the Public Prosecutor will not be appealing against the sentence.

The AGC said that in discharging its duties, it does not differentiate between Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans.

It will be discussing with the Ministry of Law whether the relevant legislation should be reviewed to enhance sentencing for some of the offences.

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