Man who filmed female undergraduates showering on campus jailed 38 weeks

Singapore’s State Courts. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)
Singapore’s State Courts. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

Over a period of eight months, he took 23 videos of women showering or relieving themselves in toilet cubicles in places such as National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Sentosa, a country club and a community club.

On one occasion, 31-year-old Alvin Niew Chin Leng’s wife even helped him by acting as a lookout while Niew was filming in the toilet of a university hostel.

Niew, who has an infant daughter, continued to film more victims even when he had been charged for similar offences. In total, he was arrested five times for various offences.

On Wednesday (21 February), Niew was sentenced to 38 weeks’ jail in the State Courts after pleading guilty to 19 charges, most of which involved insulting the modesty of a woman and criminal trespass. Niew was also convicted on charges of house trespass, theft, and possessing obscene videos. Another 29 charges of a similar nature were taken into consideration for Niew’s sentencing.

Niew’s 26-year-old wife, who is said by the prosecution to be afraid of her husband, has been let off with a stern warning. The two, who are currently unemployed, are undergoing divorce proceedings.

The court heard that Niew was familiar with the layouts of NUS and NTU as he used to work at Stamford Catering setting up buffets at different parts of the two universities for four years.

On 3 March 2017, Niew was filming women showering in a toilet at Orchid Country Club (OCC) located outside the gym when his phone was spotted by a woman above the cubicle door. He fled the scene after the woman shouted.

When Niew attempted to repeat the offence the next day at OCC, he was caught by a security officer who recognised him and called the police.

Undeterred, Niew preyed on women in NUS and NTU several weeks later.

On 27 March, a 20-year-old woman was showering in a female toilet in Raffles Hall, NUS, when she saw Niew’s phone at the top of a toilet door. Shocked, the woman tried to open the door but Niew held it close from outside.

The woman then shouted for help, causing Niew to flee. She gave chase but Niew managed to escape in a car.

Two days later, Niew was at NTU’s Hall 11 residence with the intention to film women showering.

He asked his wife to check if there was anyone in the toilet. When his wife said the toilet was empty, Niew entered a cubicle to lie in wait for a victim. Meanwhile, he told his wife to bathe.

According to the prosecution, Niew’s wife knew about her husband’s intention.

When a 21-year-old woman entered a cubicle, Niew began filming her while she showered. The woman saw the phone and screamed, prompting Niew to flee. Niew’s wife, who had finished showering by then, left with him.

In total, Niew captured 19 women in compromising positions. He was charged in relation to some of the offences on 19 April last year but went on to commit similar offences while on bail.

The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Lai, sought at least 30 weeks’ jail for Niew.

In mitigation, Niew’s lawyer Melvin Loh said that his client, who had been estranged from his wife at the time of the offences, had been affected by nude photos of his girlfriend being leaked online. Niew was also diagnosed with a voyeuristic disorder by a psychiatrist on 19 July last year.

In sentencing Niew, District Judge Kenneth Yap said that he was “not convinced” that Niew would not be a menace to society when he was released, given the number of times he had repeated the offences after being arrested.

The judge described Niew’s actions as “intrusive” and “highly predatory behaviour” in educational institutions where women would expect to feel secure.

“This is highly disturbing behaviour in a university where students should be studying instead of guarding themselves,” he said.

For insulting the modesty of a woman, Niew could have been jailed for up to a year and/or fined on each count. For criminal trespass, he could have been jailed up to three months and/or fined a maximum $1,500 on each count.