One of the troubling points of Parti Liyani’s case was the lack of an independent evaluation by the police of the cost of items that Parti was accused of stealing. Instead, the authorities merely accepted the Liew family’s evaluation which includes a broken watch that was valued at the guesstimated price of a new watch.
In court during the trial, Mr Anil Balchandani asked the Investigating Officer (IO) Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Tang Ru Long during cross examination about the value of the allegedly stolen items, all 144 of them.
ASP Tang said that he did not determine the value of the items himself, but that it was conveyed to him by each individual that items was allegedly stolen from, meaning Mr Liew Mung Leong, his son Karl Liew, his daughter Liew Cheng May, and daughter-in-law Heather Lim.
When pressed further, ASP Tang confirmed that they told him the price of each of the alleged stolen items as well as when they were purchased. However, they did not provide any documentation to prove when these items were purchased and at what price.
Further along in his cross examination, Mr Anil also asked whether ASP Tang had verified the originality of the items. The IO once again confirmed that he took the values based on what was told to him by the Liew family.
For example, when asked about whether he verified the amount of S$25,000 that Mr Karl Liew ascribed to a Gerald Genta watch, ASP Tang confirmed that he did not and that the value was stated by the younger Liew.
Horologist values watches at much lower than indicated in charge sheet
Later in the trial, Mr Anil questioned an expert witness who confirmed that assuming the Gerald Genta watch is indeed an original, in the condition it is in, it would cost no more than S$500.
Mr Eric Ong, a horologist and founder of Bonfield, also confirmed that the Helix watch which Karl Liew valued at S$50 is a “door gift” that has no value.
For the Vacheron watch, listed as part of the third charge, Mr Ong said he it is a counterfeit and was unable to value it, noting that the company doesn’t make this model of watches at all.
He also went on to confirm that the Swatch watch, which Mr Liew’s daughter valued at S$75, is also a counterfeit and therefore cannot be valued.
Despite expert testimony, District Judge Olivia Low only knocked down the value of the Gerald Genta watch from S$25,000 to S$10,000. She then sentenced Parti to 20 months of imprisonment for the second charge based on the total value of items taken for each charge.
In the appeal, High Court Justice Chan Seng Onn commented on Judge Low’s decision to ignore the assessment of the expert brought in by the Defence, saying: “The Judge failed to consider the unchallenged expert evidence on the authenticity and the working condition of the above two watches.”