The appropriate sentencing framework for sexual assault by penetration cases: BPH v Public Prosecutor [2019] SGCA 64

Section 376 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) (“PC”) sets out the offences of sexual assault by penetration, including those through: digital-vaginal penetration; digital-anal penetration; and fellatio. The case of Pram Nair v Public Prosecutor [2017] 2 SLR 1015 (“Pram Nair”) established a sentencing framework for cases of sexual assault through digital-vaginal penetration. However, it left open the following questions: (a) whether the Pram Nair framework should apply to other forms of sexual assault by penetration, and (b) whether there was a hierarchy of severity, for the various permutations of “sexual assault by penetration” under section 376 of the PC. The Court of Appeal answered these questions in BPH v Public Prosecutor.

BLV v Public Prosecutor [2019] SGCA 62: Sentencing Framework for Abuse of the Court’s Process

In the case of BLV v Public Prosecutor [2019] SGCA 62, the Singapore Court of Appeal ("CA") found that the offender, who had falsified his evidence and even procured a witness to do the same, had abused the process of the court. In light of such conduct, the CA imposed a significant "uplift" (or increase) on the offender's existing sentence. In doing so, the CA discussed the factors that the court would consider for imposing an uplift which was due to an offender's abuse of the court's process.

To plead or not to plead? Qualifying a guilty plea during mitigation: Public Prosecutor v Dinesh s/o Rajantheran [2019] SGCA 27

In Public Prosecutor v Dinesh s/o Rajantheran [2019] SGCA 27, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) answered two questions by the Prosecution, regarding the proper interpretation of section 228(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 2012 Rev Ed) (“CPC”). Under section 228(4), the court “must reject” a party’s guilty plea if it is satisfied that any matter raised in mitigation “materially affects any legal condition” which constitutes the underlying offence.

Sentencing Approach for Workplace Safety Breaches: Nurun Novi Saydur Rahman v Public Prosecutor [2019] 3 SLR 413

The recent case of Nurun Novi Saydur Rahman v Public Prosecutor was the first time an offence under s 15(3A) of the Workplace Safety and Health Act (“WSHA”) had been brought before the Singapore High Court. The High Court introduced a new two-stage sentencing framework to be applied to such offences. This paper examines the rationale and implications of the proposed sentencing framework.

Sentencing Intellectually Disabled Young Offenders: Public Prosecutor v ASR [2019] SGCA 16

In Public Prosecutor v ASR [2019] SGCA 16, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) discussed the appropriate sentencing approach for a young offender, the respondent, who committed serious crimes, including aggravated rape and sexual assault by penetration on an intellectually disabled young girl, but who was also himself intellectually disabled, with a mental age of between eight and ten. The respondent was 14 years old when he committed the offences in question. When he was convicted in 2017, he was about 16 ½ years old. He was nearly 18 years old at the time of sentencing, in 2018.

Adri Anton Kalangie v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 40

When courts issue decisions establishing or clarifying sentencing guidelines, a concern is whether these guidelines should only be applied prospectively (known as “the doctrine of prospective overruling”), and if so what that prospectivity entails. In Adri Anton Kalangie v PP [2018] SGCA 40, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) held that although as a general rule, decisions establishing or clarifying sentencing guidelines will apply both retroactively as well as prospectively, the court laying down the guidelines may, in an exceptional case, state that such guidelines will only come into effect from a specific date. In such a case, the guidelines should apply to all offenders sentenced after the date of the decision, regardless of when they had committed the underlying offence. However, they would not apply to the actual offender in the decision.