SINGAPORE — A student from a top UK university who admitted to illicitly filming women, most of whom were known to him, was jailed for a year and fined $2,500 on Wednesday (22 June).
Colin Chua Yi Jin, now 24, had in July last year pleaded guilty to seven out of 14 charges of insulting a woman’s modesty between 2015 and 2018, and one count of possessing five obscene films. The remaining charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Eleven of the 12 female victims whom he filmed were known to him and he had filmed them mostly during gatherings at his residence.
The Singaporean's name had initially been covered by a gag order to protect his victims' identities. But the prosecution successfully applied to have the gag order lifted during the hearing in July last year.
The prosecution had told the court that all the victims had been “unanimous” in their call to remove the gag order from the perpetrator’s name, with many expressing the view that the gag order was “more harmful than helpful”. All accepted the increased possibility of them being identified.
Chua then unsuccessfully appealed against the decision to reveal his name. Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon noted that Chua wanted the gag order in place for his own benefit instead of his victims, who had agreed for the part of the gag order covering Chua's name to be lifted.
Filmed victims during social gatherings
Among Chua's victims was an 18-year-old woman whom he filmed after their junior college’s prom night on 2 December 2015. He suggested that she and four classmates use the same hotel room to rest after the prom and she agreed.
At about 1.30am, Chua placed a recording device in the toilet of the hotel room and filmed her showering.
In early 2016, the principal of the junior college informed the victim that a nude video of her showering was circulating online. The victim then lodged a police report.
As of August 2020, the video was still circulating on three porn websites. One of the videos included a photograph of the woman in her prom night dress and has been viewed more than 170,000 times.
In her victim impact statement, the victim said she received messages about the video from friends and strangers, and felt embarrassed and betrayed.
Another victim, 19, was invited to the Chua's residence for a Christmas gathering on 20 December 2016. She was accompanied by other former students of the junior college.
Chua filmed the second victim while she was relieving herself in the toilet. She found out about the videos when she received an Instagram message from an unknown person on 3 October 2018. The message included two pictures of herself in the toilet. The second victim lodged a police report on the same day.
She searched online and found a video of herself urinating on a porn site. It had been viewed at least 38,439 times as of 17 August 2020. She said in her victim impact statement that she felt “betrayed and shocked”.
Chua filmed another woman, 20, in a similar manner when she visited his residence in 2018. He set up a recording device under a sink to capture her urinating.
On 26 July 2018, Chua filmed yet another victim, 20, after chancing upon her at an MRT station. They began chatting and he filmed up her skirt while he was behind her on an upward riding escalator. He then pretended to take a call on his phone in order to capture her face.
At a Christmas gathering on 23 December 2018, Chua also filmed two women in his home toilet.
Separately, Chua filmed one 21-year-old victim in the UK, after offering to give her a tour of his university. On 18 November 2018, the woman met him at his university and went to his residence to use his toilet. However, he used the toilet first to set up a recording device and then filmed the victim relieving herself.
Chua also filmed an unknown woman changing in a bedroom on 12 June 2017, while hiding behind a set of window blinds.
Between 2016 and June 2019, the police received several reports alleging that two obscene videos featuring the victims or their friends had been circulating online. One victim said that she discovered Chua's phone in the toilet of his former residence and confronted him about it.
On 3 July 2019, the police raided Chua's residence and seized seven of his devices. Forensic analysis uncovered 16 offending videos and 124 upskirt photos.
The two videos circulating online and the 16 videos found in his devices were recorded by Chua, and involved 11 identified victims and one unknown victim. A total of 14 of the 18 videos were taken at his residence.
In his first statement, Chua admitted to taking the videos, saying that stress had motivated him. He gave three further statements, in which he claimed he could not remember where they were recorded and claimed not to recognise the victims.
For each charge of insulting a woman's modesty, Chua could have been jailed for up to a year and also fined.
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