SINGAPORE: Armed with a hidden camera in his shoe, a serial offender walked around shopping malls and his school, filming upskirt videos of multiple women over five years and getting arrested six times.
Tham Heng Yew, 27, was sentenced on Wednesday (Mar 4) to 44 weeks’ jail for 30 charges, mostly for insulting a woman’s modesty. Another 138 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that Tham used his mobile phone to film videos of his female victims in dresses or skirts between July 2013 and July 2018.
He would cut a hole in his one of his shoes and place his phone in the altered footwear, with the video-recording function turned on and the camera facing up.
He would then walk around various parts of Singapore, looking for women he found attractive.
He would follow them until he had an opportune moment to place his foot with the hidden camera under their skirts, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Kee.
Tham would review the footage and delete the videos that did not capture footage of women’s underwear. He copied the “successful” clips to his laptops or hard drives.
He was arrested six times in total. The first time was in July 2013 after he was caught filming an upskirt video of a woman in Bukit Panjang Plaza.
He was released on bail five times, and reoffended each of those times.
After each arrest, he would buy new shoes, phones and electronic storage devices to replace the ones seized by the police, and resume his crimes.
Court documents did not indicate why he was arrested and released so many times.
VICTIMS TARGETED IN MALL SHOPS, ON CAMPUS AT SIM
Tham targeted victims at shops including the H&M stores at JEM and Nex, Kikki K at Raffles City shopping centre, Factorie at ION Orchard and the Cotton On store at Nex.
He was enrolled in business management at the Singapore Institute of Management, and would walk around the school filming upskirt videos of he found attractive.
On one occasion, a male student noticed Tham standing suspiciously close to women wearing skirts on campus.
He and another schoolmate followed Tham and saw him follow a woman outside the school’s computer laboratory.
They witnessed Tham place one foot under the woman’s skirt for a few seconds, before walking away.
They chased Tham, who was subsequently arrested.
On another occasion, the mother of a 14-year-old girl at a shop in Orchard Road noticed Tham place a foot under her daughter’s skirt.
She confronted him and asked if there was a camera on his shoe. Tham reached down to remove the phone and tried to flee, but the victim’s mother grabbed his shirt to stop him.
He struggled to break free, tearing his shirt badly in the process but managed to run away. During the process, however, he dropped several items including a wallet that contained his identification cards.
He was arrested again, but had deleted all footage of the girl.
Tham was arrested for the final time on Jul 22, 2018.
A bystander and her boyfriend noticed Tham place his leg between the legs of another woman at the Levi’s store at Ion Orchard.
The man confronted Tham and called the police. Investigations detected eight upskirt videos in Tham’s phone, including one taken that day.
The prosecutor asked for a jail sentence of at least 40 weeks’ jail, calling Tham “a recalcitrant serial offender who preyed upon multiple women”.
He said Tham’s offences were highly premeditated, as he had to cut a hole in his shoes and position his phone before committing the crimes.
“The offences all occurred while the accused was on station bail, which reflects his contumelious disregard for the law and its attendant consequences,” said Mr Kee.
Defence lawyer Peter Fernando said the sentence asked for by the prosecution was “unduly harsh” and said his client was seeking psychiatric treatment and wished to move on.
“This has been a dark period in his life. It was so dark at one time that he even contemplated suicide,” said the lawyer.
He added that Tham specifically asked him to tell the court that he is exceptionally remorseful and wants to say sorry to each victim.
“No doubt he is a young man with good potential to lead the straight and narrow. He is a well-educated young man … This has been his only brush with the law with one type of offence.”
He added that his client had shown “signs of full rehabilitation”, but the prosecutor said it was apparent that Tham had not shown up for treatment on several occasions.
For each charge of insulting a woman’s modesty, Tham could have been jailed for up to a year, fined, or both.