Voyeur given conditional warning due to “high likelihood of rehabilitation”; offender’s background “irrelevant” in prosecution: SPF

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has clarified that Nicholas Lim, the National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate who had filmed a female student while she was showering in her dorm bathroom in Nov last year, was given a 12-month conditional warning due to his purportedly “high likelihood of rehabilitation” and remorse over the crime he had committed.

In a series of Instagram Stories on 18 Apr, 23-year-old Communications major Monica Baey revealed that she was filmed last Nov by Lim whilst showering in her hostel bathroom at Eusoff Hall, and to her dismay, NUS had merely given the perpetrator a 12-month conditional warning and instructed him to write an apology letter to her after investigating the incident, despite her police report.

SPF said in its statement on Tue (23 Apr): “In deciding whether to recommend prosecution for a criminal offence, a number of factors are considered by Police in each case, including the age of the accused, the likelihood of reoffending/rehabilitation, the extent of remorse shown, whether there are aggravating factors (for example, like circulation of the offending images).

“In this case, the accused 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,” SPF added.

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

“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,” said the Police.

The Police added that should Lim go on to commit “any other criminal offence within 12 months” from the time the conditional warning was issued, “he will be liable to be prosecuted for both this current offence and the subsequent other offence”, which will potentially lead to “a jail sentence”.

“The approach in this case is consistent with the approach taken in other cases. There have been a number of similar cases, where such conditional warnings have been given,” SPF observed.

SPF had also refuted allegations surrounding Lim’s background, in the wake of discussions amongst members of the public suggesting that he was not prosecuted for his crime due to having “influential parents”.

The Police, along with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), “did not consider his parents’ background”, as “such factors” are deemed to be “irrelevant considerations”.

“It is unfortunate that such untruths have been put out. The man’s parents have agreed for it to be disclosed that his father is a driver in the public transport sector and his mother is a housewife,” said SPF.

Many netizens appear to be dissatisfied with the Police’s statement regarding Lim merely being given a conditional warning instead of stiffer action against the offender.

One commenter highlighted that Ms Baey was told by the investigation officer (IO) that she had to “just accept the outcome”, and that if she wanted “real consequences or more action to be taken, go to NUS and push for action”, and questioned as to why the IO had relayed such a statement to Ms Baey:

Some netizens raised the question as to why the Police is deciding on the technicalities of punishments against Lim, and are bewildered that such a weighty, contentious issue is not being brought to court for evaluation instead:

Many netizens were concerned about SPF’s purported focus on Lim’s present and future predicament in its statement instead of on the harm caused by his crime against Ms Baey:

One commenter suggested that members of the public should let the authorities handle the case as it is, and to “have more faith in the fairness of our legal system”:

Expressing her disappointment with NUS’s ways in handling her case, Ms Baey said on 18 Apr that NUS should acknowledge such instances to send the message that perpetrators must face “real consequences” for their crimes, and for the University to “establish a better network and support system for victims of all forms of sexual violence”.

“I want to know that NUS will reprimand them seriously so other potential perpetrators know they will face punishment if they commit (similar acts),” she said.

Ms Baey also told TODAY that on 21 Apr that according to NUS, the offender had been sentenced to a semester-long suspension, and is barred from entering halls and on-campus residences, in addition to being required to attend counselling sessions.

Prior to the results of the investigations and following Ms Baey’s police report, NUS submitted CCTV recordings showing Lim entering the toilet the same night she had showered in the bathroom, and a video of Ms Baey showering was subsequently found in his phone, South China Morning Post reported.

Commenting on NUS’s reasoning for the suspension and the offender’s subsequent apology, Ms Baey told SCMP that “he got away scot-free, with just a slap on the wrist”.

“What I want is for NUS to address the number of these incidents that have occurred, negotiate a fair set of sanctions where the perpetrator is actually reprimanded, through expulsion, community service, and re-education,” she added.