Man filmed upskirt videos of over 300 women in malls using mini-camera in bag

Wan Ting Koh
·Reporter
·4-min read
Woman in a skirt on the street.
Woman in a skirt (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — In order to take upskirt footage of office ladies, a man bought mini cameras which he modified to conceal inside a laptop bag.

Chia Teck Huat, a former Institute of Technical Education (ITE) lecturer, would then wander through shopping malls on the prowl for office ladies in short skirts that he could film surreptitiously.

Chia, 41, took the illicit videos in this manner from July to October 2017. He broke two cameras while experimenting with the recording process. AA total of 314 videos recovered from Chia’s devices were dated during this period, while another 21 videos were undated.

Chia, who is now working as a part-time delivery man, pleaded guilty to three out of four amalgamated charges of insulting the modesty of a woman, with the last charge to be considered for sentencing.

His lawyer, Joshua Tong, said in mitigation that his client had begun experimenting with the idea of taking upskirt videos as a point of release due to stresses from his marriage and family. Chia was also struggling to have a child with his wife but was unsuccessful until last year.

To take the videos, Chia sourced and bought mini cameras online. He then dismantled the cameras and fixed the lens in the side of a laptop bag, facing upwards.The camera was connected to a portable charger kept in a laptop bag and any footage recorded would be saved in an SD card.

He would zip up the laptop bag but leave an opening where the camera peeked out from. He tried various positions and kept spare cameras in his bag.

“The accused took his first upskirt video around mid-2017 and his urges were triggered when he saw girls in short skirts. After the first incident, he acted out more frequently and took upskirt videos at shopping centres around two to three times a week,” said Tong.

He kept the bag in the car and would fish it out to use while wandering around malls, such as Plaza Singapura, ION Orchard and Changi City Point, in the search of middle-aged women in short skirts, the prosecution said.

Chia was finally caught on 23 October 2017, during one such prowl in Plaza Singapura’s Daiso outlet. A person called the police to say that he had taken note of Chia and was following him. Police officers were sent to the scene and arrested Chia. A 2cm by 2cm modified camera was seized from him.

According to Tong, his client was relieved to be caught as he knew his behaviour verged on obsessive and compulsive, and he was unable to control himself. He was diagnosed with voyeuristic disorder.

Since being arrested, Chia has undergone numerous counselling sessions and is now motivated to stay clean. Psychiatrists had a good prognosis for Chia, whom they said was committed to therapy. He also had a good work record, supportive family and church network.

Tong said, “Prior to his offending conduct in 2017, the accused was a law-abiding citizen, a well-respected lecturer at ITE and a committed family-man.”

Seeking a 24-week jail term for Chia, Tong also argued that there had been a delay in prosecution. While Chia was first investigated by the authorities in October 2017, he had to suffer the stress and uncertainty of the case hanging over him for more than two years.

“In the interim period, the accused has now become a father to a young son, which makes the present imprisonment period more painful and worrying, especially in this COVID-19 climate,” said Tong.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kathy Chu argued for a 40-week jail term, citing the high number of victims - 335 - and a high degree of premeditation shown in the way the videos were filmed.

Chia will be sentenced on 7 December.

For insulting the modesty of a woman, Chia faces up to a year’s jail, a fine, or both.

In response to enquiries from media queries, an ITE spokesperson said, “He (Chia) had been dismissed from service in March 2018. ITE has zero tolerance on any form of sexual misconduct among its staff.”

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