SINGAPORE: The offence committed by convicted molester Terence Siow Kai Yuan, 23, is a serious one, the prosecution said in a post-sentence hearing on Friday (Oct 4).
"It remains the prosecution's position that in this present case, the offence is a serious one involving sexual contact," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong.
"We have been through that," said District Judge Jasvender Kaur, cutting her off.
Siow, a National University of Singapore (NUS) student, was sentenced to 21 months' probation in September for molesting a 28-year-old woman at an MRT station last year. Another two similar charges were taken into consideration.
READ: Shanmugam ‘surprised’ at verdict in the case of NUS student molester; AGC to appeal against sentence
On Friday, the prosecution sought a stay of the probation sentence that Siow had been given, pending their appeal against the sentence.
"My understanding is that at the last hearing, there was a request by the prosecution for a stay for consideration for appeal, but no appeal was actually pending, or no notice had been filed at that point," Ms Wong said.
Since then, the prosecution has filed a notice of appeal against the sentence, she added.
Defence lawyer Raphael Louis said his client should be allowed to continue with the probation, which he said helps Siow.
Siow, who arrived in court with a mask over his mouth and a cap pulled down his face, sat in the dock looking downcast.
Mr Louis urged the judge to allow Siow to "continue with the rehabilitative process".
"He's in touch with the probation officer. He needs help, he wants to change, but he cannot change by himself," said the lawyer. "His family is there, but the probation officer is there to help him."
NUS had told CNA that it convened a disciplinary board in October last year to look into Siow's conduct, and eventually imposed disciplinary sanctions on him including suspension.
The prosecution had pushed for six weeks' jail for the NUS student instead of the probation sentence that Judge Kaur had meted out.
After hearing both sides, the judge granted the prosecution its application to stay Siow's probation order pending the appeal in High Court.
Siow's case gained wide interest after the judge reportedly described his offences as "minor intrusions", and found that a probation report showed Siow was suitable for probation as his academic results show he has the "potential to excel in life", according to a report in the New Paper.
After the report went viral, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said he was surprised at the court's verdict but that people should “avoid casting aspersions” on the judge.
An online petition was also set up on Change.org titled "Say NO to Favorable Sentences for 'Educated' Sex Offenders". As of Friday morning, the petition had drawn more than 75,000 signatures.