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Man admits filming student changing in NTU hall, rummaged through women's shorts in laundry room

Man admits filming student changing in NTU hall, rummaged through women's shorts in laundry room

File photo of laundry. (Photo: Pixabay/stevepb)

SINGAPORE: Feeling "stressed" after quarrelling with his fiancee, a man rode his motorcycle to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and trespassed into the laundry room.

He was caught by a student when he rummaged through ladies' shorts in the washing machine, and checks later uncovered a video he had previously filmed of a hall resident changing.

Poh Wee Lee, 33, pleaded guilty on Monday (Dec 13) to one count each of criminal trespass and insulting a woman's modesty. A third charge will be considered in sentencing.

The court heard that Poh ended work at about 12.30am on Oct 9 last year. Feeling frustrated over a dispute with his fiancee and wanting to "take a breather", he rode his motorcycle to NTU.

He parked his motorcycle before walking up a grass slope into the laundry room near a hall. He snuck in when the door was ajar, knowing that the room was accessible only to hall residents and that it was an offence to enter.

He sat down between two washing machines and opened one when it stopped operating. Feeling stressed, he thought "he could relax by looking at female shorts, particularly striking or colourful shorts", said the prosecutor.

While he was rummaging through the laundry to take a closer look, a 22-year-old student entered the room to collect her laundry. 

Poh saw her and panicked, running towards the back of the room. The student texted two of her male friends and asked them to head down.

While Poh was leaving, the student and her friends shouted "Oi!" at him, and he began running. The youths gave chase and detained him, before alerting a security guard who in turn called the police.

INVESTIGATIONS REVEALED HE HAD RECORDED A STUDENT CHANGING IN HALL 

Poh was arrested and his two handphones were examined. A 40-second video was found in his phone of a 20-year-old student changing her shirt and removing her bra in her room.

Investigations revealed that Poh had gone to a hall at NTU past midnight on Sep 15, 2020 and chanced upon the victim changing in her room.

He used his phone to take a video of the victim changing, with her bare breasts visible in the clip. He then moved the video to a folder in his phone to hide it.

The prosecutor called for at least six to eight weeks' jail. She objected to the defence's call for a mandatory treatment order suitability report, saying that the accused is not a young offender and has not demonstrated a strong propensity for rehabilitation.

She said he deliberately opened the washing machine door in the hopes of finding brightly coloured and patterned ladies' shorts.

The defence psychiatrist said Poh felt like he wanted to die when he realised he was caught, and said in her report that Poh developed adjustment disorder.

However, the prosecutor said the factors that led to his purported disorder were not "particularly extraordinary" - he was stressed by work, and also by the costs of his wedding due to the delays caused by the pandemic.

Defence lawyer Jared Chen from Drew and Napier pushed for the court to call for a report assessing his client's suitability for a mandatory treatment order.

HE WAS SUFFERING FROM ADJUSTMENT DISORDER: DEFENCE

He referred to the psychiatric report by a psychiatrist, who found that Poh suffered from an adjustment disorder that affected his impulse control, judgment and mental abilities.

A jail term is not warranted, he said, but he asked for four weeks' jail if the court chose to overlook the psychiatric report.

He quoted the report, which cited five stress factors Poh faced, including a heavy workload and work stress, as well as being passed over for a promotion.

Poh was also facing "constant financial pressure" to pay for a mortgage. He was named as the co-owner of a flat his parents shared, and could not pull out in order to get a flat with his new wife.

At the same time, his wedding was postponed for a year due to the pandemic, with "no end in sight" at that time. He also had more frequent quarrels with his fiancee due to the disruption in wedding plans and his longer work hours, which occurred because he was working towards a promotion.

The couple had to alternate between staying with their two sets of parents, and Poh reported "very low job satisfaction", feeling discouraged and demoralised after not getting the promotion.

Mr Chen said Poh is "a person of good character", and that this was his first brush with the law. He had to give up a career that he built up over eight years, said Mr Chen.

The prosecutor objected to the lawyer's characterisation that Poh's filming of the student changing was "incidental or accidental".

"He walked past the window, saw the victim changing and took his phone out to record her - it's not a mere coincidence," she said.

The judge said there appeared to be some evidence of mental disorder and asked for a report assessing Poh's suitability for a mandatory treatment order. He adjourned sentencing to January.

For voyeurism, he could be jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these penalties.

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

Source: CNA/ll(gr)

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