Singapore

20-second upskirt video enough to convict man

Defence depended on 'inconsistent' evidence and 'unbelievable accounts': Judge

In a rare case, a man who filmed an upskirt video was convicted of insulting a woman's modesty even though no victim was produced in court and her identity was never established.

Ling Chengfeng, 48, had denied taking the video that the police had found on his iPhone in the course of probing him for a different offence.

Ling had no antecedents and had been acquitted of an earlier charge of criminal intimidation.

In written judgment grounds last month, District Judge Luke Tan said the court had to consider the significance of the video evidence before sentencing Ling to five weeks' jail on a single charge.

"So how much is a 20-second upskirt video worth as evidence, in a trial where no victim testified nor was the victim named, and where the victim's face could not even be seen?"

The judge noted the prosecution produced no witness of the incident that took place on Sept 28, 2013, at the Giant Hypermarket in Tampines.

But they based their case on evidence from two police investigators and a witness who forensically examined the seized iPhone.

EX-GIRLFRIEND

A "surprise" witness whom the defence originally wanted but later declined to call as a witness also added to the conclusion that Ling had committed an offence.

The surprise prosecution witness, Ms Ching Ming Huey, was an ex-girlfriend of Ling.

She said she had been instigated to lie in court to support his version of the incident.

She said Ling wanted her to claim that she had seen him drop the iPhone behind the unknown woman, which then inadvertently recorded the upskirt video.

She was also to say the victim was a transvestite whom she heard arguing earlier with a cashier at the supermarket.

Ms Ching's testimony was to corroborate Ling's claim that the upskirt video had been taken accidentally.

But Ms Ching said in court she was not at the scene at the material time.

Ling, defended by lawyer Wayne Ong, argued it had not been shown the victim was even a woman, claiming the victim was a transvestite.

But it emerged that Ling had told the investigating officer that the victim was indeed a woman.

The prosecution was unable to identify the victim as the CCTV footage at the hypermarket was overwritten after one month while the video on the iPhone was discovered some eight months after Ling was at the premises and shot the upskirt video.

UNCONVINCING

Judge Tan found all the evidence showed the victim was female and the bid by Ling "to suggest otherwise was, to put it mildly, completely unconvincing".

He said although Ling's wife was with him during the incident, she did not notice anything.

Several aspects of Ling's evidence were "inconsistent and incredible" in addition to the "clearly unbelievable accounts" he put forward in his defence, added the judge.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Agnes Chan and Sruthi Boppana had called for a minimum six weeks' jail term, highlighting that Ling had instigated Ms Ching to perjure herself in court as a way to defend himself at the trial.

Ling is appealing against conviction and sentence.

COURT & CRIME