Background of Case

In December 2020, our Senior Associate Mato Kotwani as lead counsel represented an offender who faced a total of 42 charges relating to sexual offences. The offender was a former nurse at the Institute of Mental Health (“IMH”) and he had admitted to committing numerous offences of a sexual nature including:

  • Taking upskirt videos of members of the public and IMH staff;
  • Taking videos of IMH nurses changing on IMH premises;
  • Taking videos of vulnerable patients showering in a high dependency ward at IMH premises;
  • Outraging the modesty of two vulnerable patients of IMH

The offender admitted to the offences and pursuant to a plea-bargain, the prosecution agreed to proceed on 8 charges and to have the remaining 34 charges taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing.

Novel Case Involving Sections 377BB and 74A of the Penal Code (New Offences for Voyeurism and Enhancing Punishments against Vulnerable Persons)

This was a novel case where the prosecution relied on two new sections – section 377BB and section 74A of the Penal Code.

Section 377BB is a new provision which was specifically enacted to deal with offences related to voyeurism such as the taking of upskirt videos. Previous offences involving upskirt videos of females used to be prosecuted under section 509 of the Penal Code (Insulting of a Woman’s Modesty) which carried a lower maximum sentence than the new provision.

Furthermore, the prosecution also relied on the new Section 74A of the Penal Code, which allows the Court to sentence the offender to up to twice the maximum punishment if at the time of committing the offence the offender knew or ought reasonably to have known that the victim was a vulnerable person.

Outcome and Relevance

Although the offender in this case had committed multiple offences of a serious nature, especially the voyeurism related and outrage of modesty offences against vulnerable patients, the offender’s defence team, led by our Mr Mato Kotwani, made robust legal submissions on a fair sentence that should be imposed on the offender, taking into account not just the aggravating factors but also the mitigating factors and having regard to established legal principles on culpability and proportionality of sentences.

Pursuant to the detailed written and oral submissions made to the Court on behalf of the offender, the Defence team submitted that the offender should be sentenced to a total of 57 months and 1 week’s imprisonment and 9 strokes of the cane.

The Court largely agreed with the Defence’s submissions on sentence and sentenced the offender to 57 months, and 1 week’s imprisonment and 10 strokes of the cane.

The outcome of this case will be relevant to all new cases prosecuted under these new provisions of the Penal Code.

Media Links

  1. Lydia Lam, “Former IMH nurse gets jail and caning for sexual offences against patients, ex-colleagues”, Channel News Asia (28 December, 2020) online:
  2. Shaffiq Alkhatib, “Former IMH employee who molested patients and insulted colleagues’ modesty given jail, caning”, The Straits Times (28 December, 2020) online:
  3. IMH worker who molested patients, videoed colleagues showering sentenced to jail and caning”, Yahoo! News (28 December 2020) online: