Student accused of filming women in toilets had 'master plan' to abscond from Singapore
Prosecution calls for alleged voyeur to be denied permission to return to UK uni
New evidence emerged in court yesterday that an alleged voyeur was planning to abscond from Singapore after he was granted permission to return to Britain for his studies.
The Singaporean student at a top UK university is facing 19 counts of insulting a woman's modesty and one count of possession of obscene films.
The 22-year-old is accused of filming his alleged victims while they were showering, changing, or relieving themselves in toilets at various locations in Singapore.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Foo Shi Hao and Tan Zhi Hao told District Judge Adam Nakhoda that text messages between the accused and his "trusted friend" showed that he did not intend to return to Singapore.
They urged the judge to reconsider his decision to allow the man to leave the country.
They also applied to lift the gag order that prevents the man's name from being revealed in case it leads to the identification of his alleged victims.
Last Friday, Judge Nakhoda granted the student's application to travel out of Singapore for his second school term.
Subsequently, the police obtained copies of the text messages between him and the friend that revealed he had devised a "master plan", which included him seeking asylum overseas, DPP Foo said.
On Oct 2 last year, the man was charged in court with two counts of insulting a woman's modesty. He was also given permission to leave Singapore to return to Britain for his studies.
That night, he confided in his friend, whom he had known for years. She was not aware she was among his alleged victims.
He told her in a text message: "I honestly might not come back."
He said that remaining here meant "a stay for certain destruction" and that "surrendering just means you die sooner".
DPP Foo said the man's fear of facing justice shone through in his messages. "If the accused is allowed to leave Singapore, he will have one more chance to execute his master plan."
He urged the court to consider the impact on the alleged victims if the man absconded.
In his text messages, the man listed the benefits and drawbacks of absconding.
He said: "I end up dying here anyway... I could stay here, but that would be certain, at least a metaphorical death."
When his friend asked if he thought he would get asylum, he replied: "Well, that's in the master plan."
The court was told that the friend came forward about his texts after learning he was allowed to leave Singapore.
His lawyer, Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, argued that his client had an emotional outburst that led him to send the messages.
He said his client was upset and in deep anguish that night after reading news reports containing details that could expose his identity.
"In that outburst, he said certain things, which at first glance sounds like a master plan. But he was alluding to killing himself," said Mr Kalidass.
He also cited messages sent by his client to another friend, which said: "I need to die. Abatement by death closes this."
In response, the prosecution questioned why the accused would discuss asylum in the text messages if he intended to kill himself.
In urging the court to lift the gag order on the accused's name, DPP Tan said that 10 of the 12 known victims had asked for his identity to be revealed despite knowing their own identities may be exposed.
Of the other two, one was hesitant and the other was not consulted at her family's request.
DPP Tan acknowledged the pool of potential victims may be narrowed if the accused's identity is published but said it would still be difficult to specifically identify a victim.
Arguing that public interest in exposing his identity outweighs the risk to the victims, he said: "The foundations of criminal justice are transparency and openness. These aims cannot be met if the accused hides behind a gag order."
Mr Kalidass argued not all the victims had consented, and it was not up to them to decide if the gag order should be lifted.
He also noted the man had returned for court hearings this year after being granted his first application to leave Singapore.
Judge Nakhoda is expected to deliver his decision on both matters tomorrow.