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Lawyers, flamed for defending 'bad guys' like dads who raped daughters, remain stoic

Lawyers, flamed for defending 'bad guys' like dads who raped daughters, remain stoic

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 29 Mar 2021
Author: K.C. Vijayan

Defence lawyers say they set aside emotions in such cases.

Public sentiment is stacked against persons convicted of heinous crimes, like the man convicted last month of raping his three daughters.

Defence lawyers, however, say they set aside emotions in such cases.

At best they can discharge themselves when the accused does not agree to their defence strategy such as in the case of the man convicted in 2018 of raping his biological mother, said veteran lawyer Gino Hardial Singh.

The man was subsequently defended by another lawyer, and sentenced to 16 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane.

Earlier this month, a cleaner was convicted and sentenced to 33 years jail for sexually assaulting his three biological daughters over some 14 years. He began on each victim when they turned 11 or 12.

Mr Singh, who defended the man, said: "I cannot be squeamish about the facts regardless of how reprehensible, atrocious or depraved the acts are. My duty is to represent my client and assist the court to arrive at a just outcome."

He recalled members of the public felt the accused should have been jailed for life instead, and he received negative comments from people he knew for taking up the case.

Lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu, who last week represented a man who pleaded guilty to sexual assault and rape of his daughter over more than seven years, weighed in: "Friends and people I know ask why I do such cases. Most of them are non-lawyers. I tell them I do my brief as a professional and mitigate for the offenders as engaged and instructed."

Mr Amarjit, who runs his own firm, argued in court last week for a 24 to 26 year jail term for the 44-year-old permanent resident in response to the prosecution's call for 30 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane.

The accused is due to be sentenced next month by High Court Judge Mavis Chionh.

Lawyer Josephus Tan, who had defended the couple Tan Hui Zhen and Pua Hak Chuan in 2017 convicted for fatally abusing their 26-year-old flatmate over eight months, recalled how some people confronted him in public about taking their case. He was also heckled online and questioned by friends and relatives for defending the duo.

The High Court eventually found the couple guilty of voluntarily causing grievous hurt with dangerous weapons and sentenced Tan to 16½ years' jail and Pua to 14 years' jail and 14 strokes of the cane for "extremely cruel and inhumane" abuse.

Mr Tan who is managing director of Invictus Law Corporation, said the experience had steeled him against similar flak when he went on to do more such cases.

Among others, he defended three of the seven accused persons involved in the death of the Satheesh Noel Gobidass at Orchard Towers in 2019.

One of them, Chan Jiaxing, was given a conditional warning. Mr Tan, who had made representations to the AGC to consider the facts and extent of Chan's involvement, recalled there were unflattering insinuations against him on social media after Chan's discharge with the warning.

"I share my experience with others of being flamed online and tell them it is better sometimes to ignore the taunts rather than seek redress and revisit the issues," he said.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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