Man who filmed men in public toilets sentenced to 10 weeks' jail, $4,000 fine

Nigel Chin
Reporter
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

A man who filmed obscene videos of males in public toilets in shopping malls along Orchard Road was jailed 10 weeks and fined $4,000 on Wednesday (6 December).

Colin Teo Han Jern, 27, had pleaded guilty to five counts of making an obscene film, four counts of being a public nuisance and one count of possessing an obscene film at the State Courts on 17 November. Thirty other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Teo’s sentence was deferred till 13 December while the prosecution, which had sought a six-month jail sentence, mulls whether to file an appeal. Teo is currently out on $5,000 bail.

District Judge Kenneth Yap had earlier delayed sentencing in order to give the prosecution more time to prepare its submissions in light of a complicating factor: outrage or insult of modesty offences do not currently exist against men under Singapore law.

As such, any sentence passed against Teo would set a precedent for future cases of a similar nature, said DJ Yap at a hearing on 1 December.

“You are lucky there are no such provisions for insulting the modesty of men. If there were, you would have been jailed at least six months,” said the judge to Teo at the State Courts today.

Speaking to the prosecution, DJ Yap said, “Until the day comes when Parliament adjusts the Penal Code, we can then deal with it. Right now, we can only proceed on (the films that were made).”

“Lack of consent is a relevant factor. As for invasion of privacy and violation of modesty, how are they relevant to the charges? It’s like a square peg in a round hole,” he added.

“Parliament has not seen it fit to include males (under the insult of modesty offences). The Films Act is about making films. The insult of modesty does not come under the territory of the Films Act.”

Teo, a sales executive at a pharmaceutical company, had taken the videos on 12 separate dates between 8 March and 9 September last year. Most of the crimes were committed at Paragon or The Cathay malls.

In total, 17 videos and five images were found on his phone. Of the videos, 10 captured victims masturbating, while five captured two males engaging in sex acts inside a toilet in Paragon. Two videos were also captured when Teo took a trip to Japan.

Delay in sentencing

The prosecution had sought a high sentence for Teo, citing the number of aggravating factors involved in the case such as the intrusion of privacy as well as the “private and intimate act” captured in the videos. It had earlier said that there were at least 33 different victims involved in the case.

Teo’s lawyer Chua Eng Hui argued that such acts should not have been committed in public toilets in the first place – a position that DJ Yap agreed with. “If you weren’t supposed to be doing that (in the private toilet), is that an aggravating factor?” the judge asked the prosecution.

Chua also submitted a mitigation plea on behalf of his client. In it, he said that Teo has been feeling ashamed and remorseful, and had experienced suicidal thoughts.

Teo was eventually asked to seek help at the Institute of Mental Health, where an assessment by doctors there showed that his fear of legal repercussions meant that his chances of re-offending were low.

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