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Repeat offender gets jail for taking upskirt videos of girls, women near SUSS, SIM and train stations

Repeat offender gets jail for taking upskirt videos of girls, women near SUSS, SIM and train stations

Photo illustration of a man taking upskirt photos. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Eight months after being released from probation for taking upskirt clips, a man resumed his voyeuristic ways, heading to train stations and going to schools to record videos of women and girls.

Marcus Phua Xie Yi, 24, was given 15 weeks' jail on Thursday (May 6) after pleading guilty to 15 charges of insulting a woman's modesty, with another 28 charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that Phua had been sentenced to 18 months' probation in 2016 for insulting a woman's modesty.

However, he started taking upskirt videos again during his National Service, between May 2018 and October 2018. He went to places like the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and the Singapore Institute of Management, as well as Clementi, Raffles Place and Dover train stations to target female victims.

He would not only film under their skirts, but attempt to capture their faces as well, with the judge calling his actions "brazen".

On Oct 12, 2018, a male student was walking up the stairs at an overhead bridge near SUSS when he noticed Phua in front of him behaving suspiciously and walking closely behind a woman.

The male student saw Phua placing his phone near the woman's skirt, before walking past her and shifting his camera to angle it towards her face.

After noting that Phua did not walk down the stairs at the other end of the overhead bridge, he spoke to some of his classmates and told them what happened. One of them confronted Phua before calling the police.

Phua was arrested and his laptop revealed multiple upskirt videos he had taken of other victims. He would typically trail a victim from behind and take an upskirt video while she was on an escalator or staircase, before filming her face where possible.

Defence lawyer Cory Wong of Invictus Law tried to ask for a report assessing if Phua would be suitable for a mandatory treatment order, but the prosecution objected to this.

District Judge Marvin Bay said he agreed there was no basis for this, adding that "at some point one has to draw the line", referring to how Phua had reoffended and that it is important to "preserve the privacy of women and girls".

Mr Wong highlighted that his client suffered from major depressive disorder. While this did not contribute to the offences, and he retained a high degree of control over his actions, Mr Wong said Phua was a "vulnerable person".

His brother died at the age of 10, when Phua was 12, and Phua's father also died of cancer when Phua was 18 or 19, the lawyer explained. Mr Wong highlighted how Phua was under "a shadow of early deaths". 

Judge Bay said he accepted Phua's condition, but said there is a need to ensure that girls and women "feel free to use public transport and public thoroughfares without any fear that their privacy is not surreptitiously being intruded upon".

"I also accept that he had a maladaptive coping mechanism using voyeurism to handle personal tragedies," added Judge Bay, but said Phua had failed to take the opportunity to reform when he was on probation.

For each charge of insulting a woman's modesty, he could have been jailed up to a year and fined.

Source: CNA/ll(ta)

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