SINGAPORE, Nov 15 — Staying with his sister who resided at a dormitory in the National University of Singapore (NUS), Ng Yong Kuan decided to install motion-activated spy cameras in the toilets of the female-only floors of the dormitory to record unsuspecting women as they showered.
The 27-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Nov 14) to a charge of possessing voyeuristic recordings and one of criminal trespass.
Two other charges of possessing voyeuristic imagery will be taken into account for sentencing when he returns to court on Dec 20.
Reports from psychiatrists from the Institute of Mental Health showed that Ng was suffering from schizophrenia at the time of his offences. However, details of his condition were not disclosed in court.
Schizophrenia is a major psychotic illness that alters certain realities for sufferers. They are prone to having hallucinations such as hearing voices that others do not hear, and they also usually have paranoia or delusions of being followed or controlled.
Antipsychotic medication is essential in treatment and must be adhered to for symptom control.
District Judge Wong Su Ann therefore said that it was prudent to call for a mandatory treatment order (MTO) suitability report to better assess Ng’s condition and to ascertain what an appropriate sentence would be.
This order is a community sentencing option for offenders who suffer from mental conditions when they commit crime. Instead of serving jail time, they will be directed to undergo psychiatric treatment for up to 36 months.
An NUS spokesperson told TODAY on Tuesday that a Board of Discipline was convened to look into the allegations against Ng.
A decision was made to terminate his candidature with effect from April 2020, the spokesperson added.
“NUS takes a strong stand against sexual misconduct and remains committed to building a culture of respect on our campuses.
“Any student or staff (member) who breaches the NUS statutes and regulations will face severe sanctions.”
Setting up spy cam in toilets
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Selene Yap told the court that at the time of the offences, Ng was a NUS student who had been staying in his sister’s room on the third floor of the NUS College of Alice and Peter Tan.
The building is a hostel for NUS students such as Ng and his sister and is only accessible to residents using a key card.
Ng had been staying with his sister since Feb 29 in 2020 because his home was undergoing renovations.
Investigations revealed that sometime in May 2019 and February 2020, he bought two motion-activated spy cameras disguised as smoke detectors for about S$200 each.
Motion-activated cameras typically start recording when they detect movement.
He chanced upon these cameras online and bought them with voyeuristic intentions to look at naked women, DPP Yap said.
Sometime in October 2019, Ng entered the female toilet on the third level of the building where he fixed the spy camera onto the ceiling of the toilet with tape.
The angle of the camera was facing downwards, which captured the women showering in the toilet cubicles.
Ng would remove the spy camera a week later and transfer the videos and images onto his laptop where he would view them and save or delete them.
He would then repeat the process three other times in the female toilets on the third, ninth and 12th floors of the building that had female-only rooms.
Found hiding in cubicle
On March 7 in 2020, Ng went to the 12th-floor toilet at about midnight to place the spy camera.
At around 5am, he returned to check on the camera and use the bathroom.
This was when Ms Jade Tay, who was residing in the same building, found the toilet door locked.
She also noticed a mobile phone that was placed on a ledge facing the door that Ng had placed there earlier so that he would be alerted if someone approached the toilet.
She then went to tell a friend about what she saw and the two returned to the toilet to try and open the door, but when they were unable to do so, they alerted security personnel on campus.
Once the toilet door was unlocked, the campus security officer knocked on the only occupied cubicle, asking the occupant to come out.
Ng did not respond and when the officer tried to unlock the cubicle door, Ng locked the door again.
The officer eventually managed to gain entry into the cubicle and found Ng inside with a tote bag.
Ng was later arrested and his laptop was seized. A total of 23 recordings of five female victims naked and showering were retrieved.
Offender was ‘goal-directed’
DPP Yap told the court that the prosecution objected to the calling for a mandatory treatment order suitability report and instead sought four to six months’ jail for Ng.
She said that in this case, deterrence outweighs rehabilitation because Ng’s offences were highly premeditated and took place multiple times.
His actions displayed a clear offending pattern and he retained the ability to do something very “goal-directed”, which was to look at naked woman, DPP Yap added.
In her client’s defence, Ms Tan Jun Yin from Trident Law argued that the presence of pre-meditation does not diminish the weight of the offender’s mental health condition.
Ms Tan added that Ng’s psychiatric disorder clouded his judgement and the degree of control that he could exercise himself was significantly impaired.
For possession of voyeuristic image or recording, Ng could be jailed for up to two years or fined, or both.
For criminal trespass, he could be jailed for up to three months or fined up to S$1,500, or both. — TODAY