He was originally cleared of raping one of his regular female patients, but the High Court invoked a rarely used procedure to find him guilty of an unframed charge, namely, using his fingers to digitally penetrate the alleged victim’s vagina. For this unframed charge and another molestation charge involving the same person, Dr Wee Teong Boo might have faced a 10-year jail term.
But on Wednesday (10th June) morning, Dr Wee walks out of court a free man, as the Court of Appeal acquitted him on both charges and dismissed the Prosecution’s appeal to have him convicted on the rape charge.
The court had earlier reserved judgment after hearing arguments from both parties in March this year. Chief Prosecutor Lee Lit Cheng presented the Prosecution’s arguments, while Dr Wee was represented by Mr Eugene Thuraisingam and team which included Mr Chooi Jing Yen, Ms Syazana Yahya and Mr Johannes Hadi.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who wrote the 72-page judgment for the court which included Judge of Appeal Steven Chong and Justice Belinda Ang, did not mince his words in expressing disapproval of the conduct by the prosecutors at the trial, which had prejudiced Dr Wee’s conduct of his defence as a result.
The prosecutors had failed to disclose two relevant pieces of evidence to the Defence at an early stage – a doppler ultrasonography report which showed that Dr Wee’s erectile dysfunction had progressed for some time by April 2016, and a report from the polyclinic dealing with what transpired during the complainant’s visits following Dr Wee’s medical examination of the complainant in 2015, both of which were unused materials relevant to Dr Wee’s guilt or innocence.
In relation to the Prosecution’s appeal, the court agreed with Justice Chua Lee Ming below that the evidence adduced in relation to Dr Wee’s erectile dysfunction, namely, that he required the aid of one hand to perform penile penetration, casted a reasonable doubt as to whether Dr Wee could have raped the alleged victim on 30th December 2015 in the manner she had described: that Dr Wee was holding onto her legs with both hands while penetrating her vagina with his penis.
The court also found that the account by the complainant in relation to the alleged rape, where she believed that Dr Wee’s alleged actions of penetrating her vagina with “something horizontal” while supporting her legs with his head and chest upright were part of a medical examination, was “far from convincing”.
For the purposes of both the rape and molestation charges, the court also considered the credibility of the complainant and found that she was not “unusually convincing”. In particular, the complainant’s account that her toes were touching the photocopier during the alleged rape was inconsistent with the clinic assistants’ testimony that there were plastic boxes, a white ladder and a green chair standing in the way all along.
After the alleged rape, the complainant also did not mention to her mother that she was raped, but only asked her mother of the circumstances in which a doctor could check a patient’s private part and went on to claim that Dr Wee had poked something into her vagina.
The court also took the opportunity to set out the law in relation to a rarely-invoked provision in the Criminal Procedure Code, in which a court may convict an accused person for an unframed charge in place of a charge that has not been proved against him.
In particular, a court must be satisfied that the unframed charge falls within potential offences that could be proved on the facts as a result of factual uncertainties, and that the accused person must not be prejudiced by the conviction on the charge.
In the present case, the court held that given the nature of the complainant’s allegations and the Prosecution’s case that digital penetration never took place, the unframed charge of digital penetration did not fall within any of the provable facts and was not within the range of potential offences.
Further, Dr Wee was also prejudiced by the conviction on the unframed charge as the judge did not afford an opportunity for parties to recall witnesses and make submissions on it.