25 November 2020 • The “Unusually Convincing” standard features most often in sexual offences where the testimony of a single eyewitness (usually the alleged victim) is common. Unusually (pun intended), our team had this standard applied in a non-sexual case as well! Read on to find out more.
The “Unusually Convincing” standard features most often in sexual offences where the testimony of a single eyewitness (usually the alleged victim) is common. Unusually (pun intended), our team had this standard applied in a non-sexual case as well! Read on to find out more.
In Public Prosecutor v Ng Wan Ping  SGDC 209, our client was charged with allegedly kicking an National Environment Agency officer (“NEA Officer”) in the stomach. The NEA Officer had lodged a police report, and also stated on the witness stand that he had told his supervisor about the incident. The Prosecution had called 3 witnesses, namely, the NEA Officer, his supervisor and the investigation officer. However, the only eyewitness called by the Prosecution was the NEA Officer himself.
At trial, the learned Principal District Judge (“PDJ”) Toh Han Li specifically considered the “Unusually Convincing” standard where the uncorroborated evidence of a witness forms the sole basis for a conviction. Toh PDJ, citing Public Prosecutor v GCK  SGCA 2 (“GCK”) at , held at  that the unusually convincing “standard applies regardless of whether the witness is an eyewitness or an alleged victim”.
Toh PDJ then cited GCK at  and  –  to elucidate the meaning of “unusually convincing”. Essentially, the testimony must contain a “ring of truth which leaves the court satisfied that no reasonable doubt exists in favour of the accused”, and the aim of this scrutiny is “to ensure that the trial judge has an awareness of the dangers of convicting the accused person on uncorroborated evidence”.
Toh PDJ also noted that there was no objective corroboration of the incident, save for repeated complaints by the NEA Officer. Corroboration in this manner “does not constitute objective or independent corroborative evidence so as to dispense with the requirement of PW1’s evidence having to be unusually convincing” (see section 159 of the Evidence Act).
In fact, Toh PDJ found that in this case, the police report filed by the NEA Officer, which contradicted his testimony in Court in various ways, particularly as regards whether there was an alleged argument between our client and the NEA Officer, was not only “not corroborative, it is materially inconsistent with PW1’s testimony”. This was due in large part to our team drawing the Court’s attention to 4 notable inconsistencies between the NEA Officer’s evidence and his police report during cross-examination.
Due to the NEA Officer contradicting the Case for the Prosecution (“CFP”) on whether he had an argument with our client, this is also believed to be the first known reported judgment wherein an adverse inference was drawn against the Prosecution on the basis of the Case for the Prosecution, on which our team had made a strong submission. Toh PDJ found that “The Case for the Prosecution’s Summary of Facts would have been aligned with PW1’s police report but had been contradicted by PW1’s evidence in court which simply focused on the alleged kick from the accused and that there was no prior conversation, argument or aggressive gesture from the accused”.
As a result of these factors, our client was accordingly acquitted and discharged.