Former ITE lecturer admits to taking upskirt videos of hundreds of women using modified laptop bag

Former ITE lecturer admits to taking upskirt videos of hundreds of women using modified laptop bag

File photo of a man carrying a laptop bag
File photo of a man carrying a laptop bag. (Photo: Pexels/Lukas)

SINGAPORE: A senior lecturer at the Institute of Technical Education modified his laptop bag by placing mini cameras inside and went around shopping malls to film upskirt videos of women.

Chia Teck Huat, 41, who has lost his job and now works as a part-time deliveryman, pleaded guilty on Thursday (Oct 29) to three counts of insulting a woman's modesty, with a fourth similar charge taken into consideration. 

The court heard that Chia bought mini cameras online and modified them so they could be concealed in his laptop bag to film upskirt videos.

He would zip up the bag so that it appeared to be closed, configuring the set-up after a few tries with different camera positions, and kept at least two spare cameras in his bag.

He kept the bag in his car and would turn on the video-recording function whenever he wanted to film upskirt clips of women. 

"The accused would walk around shopping malls in various parts of Singapore, such as Plaza Singapura, ION Orchard, Tampines Mall and Changi City Point, looking for middle-aged office ladies wearing short skirts," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kathy Chu.

He would later review the clips and delete any footage that did not capture a woman's underwear, and copy the other files to his personal electronic devices, organising them by date and labelling them in order.

He did so between July 2017 and October 2017, until a man caught him taking upskirt videos at Daiso in Plaza Singapura on Oct 23, 2017.

Police officers arrested Chia that day and seized his modified laptop bag and other devices. They also raided his home and seized other devices.

A total of 362 videos were recovered from his devices, with 335 unidentified women filmed in 335 of the clips. The remaining 27 videos could not be played.

Ms Chu asked for at least 40 weeks' jail, citing the high degree of planning and premeditation, and the multiple victims.

HE HAD "TREMENDOUS STRESS AND ANXIETY": DEFENCE

Defence lawyers Ravinderpal Singh, Joshua Tong and Justin Ng asked instead for 24 weeks' jail. They said Chia had been working as a senior lecturer at ITE since 2012, but now works as a part-time delivery man.

He got married in 2011 but the union was "filled with difficulties" including health issues. Chia's mother was suffering from Stage 4 cancer in 2016 to 2017, and the circumstances combined gave Chia "tremendous stress and anxiety", said the defence.

At this point, he began experimenting with the idea of taking upskirt videos "as it provided a release, albeit a wrong one", said the defence.

They said he took his first upskirt video around mid-2017, with his urges "triggered when he saw girls in short skirts", eventually going to more malls until he was caught.

"The accused was actually relieved that he was caught by the police as he knew that his behaviour was being obsessive and compulsive and that he was unable to control himself," said the lawyers.

Chia immediately confessed to all offences, volunteering devices with passwords and usernames, and has since gone for many counselling sessions, the court heard.

The defence said this is Chia's first brush with the law and he was previously "a law-abiding citizen, a well-respected lecturer at ITE and a committed family man".

An ITE spokesperson said on Thursday evening that Chia was dismissed from service in March 2018.

"ITE has zero tolerance (for) any form of sexual misconduct among its staff," said the spokesperson.

He will return to court for sentencing on Dec 7. For each charge of insulting a woman's modesty, he could be jailed for up to a year, fined, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)

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