Five-judge Court of Appeal throws out two appeals for lower sentences by sexual offenders

A five-judge Court of Appeal heard two appeals separately on Thursday (4th July), both of which involved sexual offenders who were asking for their sentences to be reduced.

The first appeal in the morning involved a man who pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault by digital anal penetration and outrage of modesty, against his 7-year-old grandson. He was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for the sexual assault charge, having been given a discount of 1 year by the High Court judge for reasons explained below.

The other appeal in the afternoon involved another man who pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault by penetration, outrage of modesty and causing hurt by means of poison, associated with sexual acts committed against three of his daughter’s friends. He was sentenced to a global term of 20 years’ imprisonment and 16 strokes of the cane.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon – along with Judges of Appeal Judith Prakash, Tay Yong Kwang and Steven Chong as well as Justice Woo Bih Li – dismissed both appeals and indicated that the court would be issuing detailed grounds for their decision in the first appeal in due course.

Mr Derek Kang, who represented the accused in the first appeal, pressed for the sentence for sexual assault to be reduced the minimum term of 8 years mandated by law.

He sought to persuade the court that a sentencing framework laid by the Court of Appeal in September 2017, in the context of digital vaginal penetration, should be attenuated in the context of digital anal penetration as “the latter was less serious than former in principle”.

This appeared to be the view taken by the judge who sentenced the accused in the first appeal, who thought that there was room for doubt as to whether the benchmark sentences should be equated between different forms of sexual penetration, and hence decided to give a 1 year discount in the overall sentence.

The accused in the second appeal appeared in person and spoke through his interpreter, pleading for the court to order his imprisonment terms to run concurrently rather than consecutively.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mohamed Faizal, who appeared for the Prosecution one appeal after another, pointed out that there was abuse of a position of trust in both cases, such that the sentences impoed could not have been excessive, “let alone manifestly so”.