A man who had agreed in October to forcing a drunk teenager at the foot of a block in Pasir Ris after a physical-themed Truth or Dare game now wants to remove his plea of guilt.
He also has not paid his attorneys Marcus Tai and Roy Sze, who told the high court on Monday (Dec 2) that they will be removing themselves from the case.
The 19-year-old blamed man, who cannot be named to preserve the identity of the 15-year-old girl, had pleaded guilty on Oct 31 to molesting the girl.
Later doing so in the early hours of Oct 17, 2017, at the foot of Block 557, Pasir Ris Street 51, he helped his fellow and co-accused, who failed in his struggle.
Screengrab of Google Street View of Block 557, Pasir Ris Street 51.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man told the court that the matter was meant for sentencing on Monday, but the defense said the arrested had told them on Monday morning that he intends to withdraw his plea of guilt.
“His further instructions are that he intends to appoint counsel for this purpose and to enter a defense subsequently,” said Mr. Tai. “Unfortunately, I have to inform this court that we have not been paid for this matter.”
The accused had penned a letter to the judge, but the prosecution said what he wrote in it did not amount to a denial.
“Technically speaking, he has not satisfied the legal threshold to convince your honor to retract the plea,” said the prosecutor.
He said while the guy seeks a new set of defense attorneys, the prosecution would allow the plea of guilty to be, as there are currently “no valid grounds to withdraw” it.
He said all the guards had been observed when he had pleaded guilty – with the purpose of his plea explained to him, defense counsel describing him and with the accused repeatedly asked if he realized his plea.
At the moment, the accused had begged for an adjournment of sentencing only to attend to his grandma, who was in poor health, said the prosecutor.
Justice Audrey Lim gave the defense their request to release themselves, and also gave the accused one month to hire new lawyers.
The penalty for molestation is a maximum of 20 years’ jail, a fine, or caning. The case of the second co-accused, who had wanted to force the victim as well, is pending.