SINGAPORE: Over about four-and-a-half months, a psychology undergraduate at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) took 469 illicit videos of 335 women, including victims at the North Spine of the university.
Shaun Ho Yan Liang, 26, pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Sep 16) to two charges of insulting a woman’s modesty and a charge under the Films Act, with a fourth charge taken into consideration.
He was nabbed only when a boyfriend of one of the victims caught Ho in the act and detained him. Ho had followed the victim at a supermarket at Eastpoint Mall on the night of Jul 22, 2018, when the victim noticed him pacing around.
She told her boyfriend about this and they continued to observe him, until the boyfriend saw Ho’s handphone pointed under his girlfriend’s shirt.
He detained Ho immediately and reported the incident to the store’s security officer, who lodged a police report.
Police found 10 videos of the victim on his phone. A forensic examination of the device uncovered another 459 videos involving 334 female victims.
Ho admitted to taking the videos between February 2018 and July 2018 at various locations including Eastpoint Mall, an overhead bridge at the North Spine of NTU, the student activity centre at NTU and a laboratory at the National Institute of Education.
He targeted women who wore shorts or skirts, squatting or standing close to them to film the videos.
On many occasions, he followed the victims for a period of time, using his phone to record multiple videos of their private areas, during lessons at NTU, at places on campus and during visits to supermarkets.
He used an application on the phone that allowed him to record the videos inconspicuously, taking the illicit clips every day over four-and-a-half months.
He would watch the videos when he was in a private space and “would derive pleasure” from them, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sean Teh.
More than 100 obscene video files were also found on Ho’s laptop.
A “PROLIFIC” SERIAL OFFENDER: PROSECUTOR
Mr Teh asked for 10 months and three weeks’ jail for Ho, adding that Ho was a “prolific serial upskirt offender” who offended daily in public places.
“The general public, and more specifically, students in educational institutions, must be protected from the egregious breaches into their privacy that upskirt offences present,” he said.
“Such offences insidiously undermine the sense of security and safety that all women ought to feel in public, and creates an atmosphere of fear and suspicion within society, even in settings that ought to be comfortable and familiar.”
Ho used a secret photography application and the offences were “notoriously difficult to detect”, said Mr Teh.
“The harm caused by the offences extends beyond the individual victims themselves, and often spreads a heightened sense of fear and suspicion in society,” he added.
Ho’s defence lawyer asked for less than 10 months and three weeks’ jail, saying that his client was “a bright individual” in his final year of studying psychology at NTU.
Ho has sought help for his “condition” and has gone for five counselling sessions, said the lawyer. He tendered to the court Ho’s NTU transcript, along with a counsellor’s report and testimonies from Ho’s secondary schoolmates.
“The accused is a highly motivated student with a bright future and has done well,” said the lawyer, adding that Ho “has potential to reform and contribute to society”.
He said this was Ho’s first brush with the law and that he has fully cooperated with the authorities.
In response, the prosecutor cited the case of Terence Siow and said: “It was held that a reference to an offender’s scholastic excellence would in and of itself be irrelevant, unless a link can be drawn between his scholastic excellence and (rehabilitation).”
He added that the fact that Ho had no previous convictions should be given no weight, as he has committed so many offences in the current case.
Responding to the defence’s psychiatric report, which diagnosed Ho with “deviancy associated with voyeurism”, Mr Teh said voyeurism did not deprive a person of his self-control.
The judge said he needed time to consider the sentence and adjourned the case to Sep 23.
For each charge of insulting a woman’s modesty, Ho could be jailed for a year, fined or both. For possessing obscene films, he could be jailed for up to six months, given fines of at least S$500 per film up to a maximum of S$20,000, or both.
HO REMAINS A STUDENT AT NTU
In response to queries by CNA, NTU said Ho is still a student and pending disciplinary action by the university.
“The individual is no longer attending classes at the university, and will be subject to the university’s disciplinary proceedings after the conclusion of the judiciary proceedings and court sentencing,” said a spokesperson for NTU.
“The university takes a strong stand against sexual misconduct. Any student who has committed such acts of misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include suspension or expulsion from the university, depending on the severity of his offences, and other mitigating or aggravating factors.
“Where the case is before the courts, the university will generally take action after judicial proceedings are completed so as to be able to take into account the findings of the court.”