Web Stories Thursday, February 29

SINGAPORE — Ng Yong Kuan was sentenced to two months’ jail on Thursday (Jan 18) after filming women showering using motion-activated spy cameras he installed in female-only toilets while staying with his sister in a National University of Singapore (NUS) dormitory.

The fact that Ng, now aged 27, suffers from schizophrenia was taken into account in sentencing after three psychiatrists stated that the condition was a factor in his actions.

Schizophrenia is a major psychotic illness that alters certain realities for sufferers. They are prone to hallucinations such as hearing voices others do not hear, and they often suffer from paranoia or delusions of being followed or controlled.

Ng had pleaded guilty on Nov 14 to one charge of possessing voyeuristic recordings and one of criminal trespass.

Two other charges of possessing voyeuristic imagery were taken into account for sentencing.

A mandatory treatment order (MTO) suitability report requested by the court concluded that he was a suitable candidate, but the prosecution called for Ng to be jailed.

An MTO is an option for offenders who suffer from mental conditions when they commit a crime. Instead of serving jail time, they are directed to undergo psychiatric treatment for up to three years.

During the hour-long hearing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Selene Yap argued that as Ng had planned his crime, and had kept the videos of the naked victims, he should be jailed to deter him from reoffending.

She also noted that he had been able to control and plan his actions, having taken precautions to not be detected when he entered female toilets.

However, Ng’s lawyer Tan Jun Yin of Tride Law Corporation said that three psychiatrists had found Ng to have committed his crimes while motivated by his paranoia.

One psychiatrist described Ng’s case as a “rare instance of psychotically driven behaviour, rather than deviant sexual behaviour”.

“He believed people were watching him and could see his thoughts,” said Ms Tan, adding he had installed the cameras to “watch them and seek revenge”.

She added that Ng has not reoffended since seeking treatment three years and eight months ago.

WHAT HAPPENED

Ng was an NUS student and had been staying with his sister in her room on the third floor of the NUS College of Alice and Peter Tan because his home was undergoing renovations.

The building is a hostel for NUS students such as Ng and his sister and is only accessible to residents using a key card.

To commit his offence, he bought two motion-activated spy cameras disguised as smoke detectors for about S$200 each.

Sometime in October 2019, Ng entered the female toilet on the third level of the building where he fixed the spy camera onto the ceiling of the toilet with tape, angled to capture women showering.

Ng would remove the spy camera a week later and transfer the videos and images onto his laptop.

He repeated the process three times in the female toilets on the third, ninth and 12th floors of the building that had female-only rooms.

He was caught on March 7, 2020 while in the 12th-floor toilet at about 5am when he had checked on the camera and used the bathroom.

A resident in the building found the toilet door locked, and spotted a mobile phone Ng had placed on a ledge facing the door. He had done so to be alerted if someone approached the toilet.

Campus security personnel were alerted and gained entry into the cubicle where they found Ng.

He was later arrested, and a total of 23 recordings of five female victims naked and showering were found.

SCHIZOPHRENIA’S IMPACT ON NG’S DECISION

While Ng was found suitable for the MTO, District Judge Wong Su Ann said that Ng should be sentenced to a jail term.

She said that Ng’s actions were a grave intrusion into the privacy of multiple victims, especially in a dormitory “akin to a second home”.

Psychiatrists had found that Ng was not of unsound mind, and that he was able to “appreciate the gravity of (his) actions”, said the judge.

The psychiatrists’ reports also showed that while difficult, Ng still had an “element of control”.

However, she took into account that Ng suffered a psychiatric illness, and has also shown “genuine remorse” through his actions, such as by getting a part-time job to pay for his treatment.

Ng will begin his two-month jail sentence on Feb 1, 2023 after the judge agreed to Ng’s request for the deferment so that he can tie up loose ends.

An NUS spokesperson told TODAY in November that a Board of Discipline was convened to look into the allegations against Ng, and it had terminated his candidature with effect from April 2020.

“NUS takes a strong stand against sexual misconduct and remains committed to building a culture of respect on our campuses,” said the spokesperson.

“Any student or staff (member) who breaches the NUS statutes and regulations will face severe sanctions.”

For possession of voyeuristic image or recording, Ng could have been jailed for up to two years or fined, or both.

For criminal trespass, he could have been jailed for up to three months or fined up to S$1,500, or both.

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