30 June 2006

The Michael McCrea Case

I have not closely followed the Michael McCrea story, but I know my criminal law. So I am a bit startled to see the following ST article. I suspect that the journalist may not really understand how the criminal legal system works.
ST June 30, 2006
Prosecution gets what it asked for in McCrea case

By Chong Chee Kin

THE Michael McCrea case is special, almost as special as the relationship he shared with the man he killed.

First, the Australian government asked the Singapore Government to promise it will not execute McCrea if he is extradited. Then it became apparent that he would not have faced the gallows anyway, since the charges brought against him would not have led to an execution on conviction.

Duh. Well, of course if the Singapore government had promised not to execute McCrea, then the prosecution would have brought lesser charges. You wouldn't proceed on murder, if you had already told the Australian government that McCrea wouldn't be hanged, right?

The prosecution IS part of the government, after all, and is directly involved in the extradition process. Furthermore the Constitution vests the prosecution with the power and discretion to decide what charges it wants to bring.
McCrea's lawyer Kelvin Lim dismissed the suggestion that the charges were reduced because of the Government's promise to Australia. He insists that the facts support his argument that McCrea did not commit murder.

'It's quite clear that it is not murder. How can it be murder when there was a sudden and grave provocation from the victims? McCrea was attacked and hit back in self-defence,' he said.
Heheh. If it was so obviously NOT murder, why would the Australian government bother to ask the Singapore government to promise not to execute McCrea? If it was so obviously NOT murder, McCrea couldn't possibly hang anyway.

And how would McCrea's lawyer Kelvin Lim know why the prosecution reduced the charges? Did the prosecution explain to Kelvin its choice of charges? (No, the prosecution's practice is to be silent on its prosecutorial decisions).

Did Kelvin attend any of those top-secret meetings between our Foreign Affairs officers and the Australian diplomats? (No, that's all top secret as well).

Did the prosecution say that it reduced the charges NOT because of the Government's promise to Australia? (No, it was McCrea's lawyer who said so.)

As for these assertions by McCrea's lawyer:
He insists that the facts support his argument that McCrea did not commit murder.

'It's quite clear that it is not murder. How can it be murder when there was a sudden and grave provocation from the victims? McCrea was attacked and hit back in self-defence,'
.... well, these are what we call questions of fact, in the courtroom. Kelvin Lim's statements may be true, or they may not be true, or they may be partially true, but the point is that questions like these:

(1) was there really provocation from the victims?
(2) was it "sudden" or "grave"?
(3) was McCrea really attacked at all?
(4) did he really act in self-defence?
(5) etc etc

... are all questions not to be answered by McCrea's lawyers, but to be determined and decided by the judge, based on available evidence presented in court.

Provided that - the prosecution proceeds on murder charges.

And - if the accused claims trial.

And - if the defence raises the defence of sudden and grave provocation.

But none of this really matters, if the prosecution just proceeds on non-murder charges, and the accused just pleads guilty straightaway.

That is, we'll never know whether McCrea committed "murder" or not, because there never was a murder trial.

And there was never a murder trial, because the prosecution didn't proceed on a murder charge.

And the prosecution would never have proceeded on a murder charge, because the Singapore government had agreed that McCrea must not hang.

And if the Singapore government had never agreed to this, well, the Australian government just wouldn't have sent McCrea back to Singapore.

There. Hope it's all clear now.

Anyway, I think that this was a good result, all things considered. If the Singapore government had not entered into those arrangements with the Australian government, McCrea would never have been brought here and convicted at all.

Also, I'm not a fan of the death sentence, so I'm actually quite happy that McCrea did not have to die.

Reading my karmic tea leaves today, I sense also that in some strange way, the death of Australian Nguyen Tuong Van had helped to save the life of Michael McCrea. Certainly, the diplomatic fallout from Nguyen Tuong Van's case would have induced the Singapore authorities to move more carefully in this case.


"Please don't be sorry but instead celebrate the life
God has made possible through his love ...
Be of great faith; of greater courage and firm heart."
- Nguyen's last diary entry (written two hours before his execution).


+++++++++
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58 comments:

Porcorosso said...

Porcorosso's criminal law is even rustier than Mr Wang's but his concern is that this smacks of a classic case of plea bargaining. Very American. Very Worrying. And while we are at it, what happened to the presumption of innocence?

Recruit Ong said...

Mr Wang, as your good self is a former DPP and still a member of the esteemed profession, any comments on M Ravi and the disciplinary hearings he is facing now from the Law Society?

Anonymous said...

A brilliant post as usual, Mr Wang.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Well, Porco, plea bargaining actually happens all the time in our system too. Daily process.

As for the presumption of innocence, why, yes, it still applies. Prosecution proceeds on lesser charge; the accused is free to plead either guilty or not; if he chooses to plead innocent and claim trial; then he is presumed innocent and the prosecution is to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Anthony said...

Porcorosso,

The Americans don't have a monopoly on plea bargaining.

As I understand it, there is an international obligation to "extradite or prosecute", so Singapore wasn't completely held at gun point to comply with Australia's wishes.

This bodes well. I agree with Mr Wang's prognosis that Singapore seems to be treading far more carefully now.

Mei Ling said...

The deal with Australia was that Singapore will not execute McCrea if he is extradited. But does that preclude proceeding with a murder charge? Putting it another way, can a person found guilty of murder be sentenced to life imprisonment instead of hanging? I believe that there were some requests that Nguyen Tuong Van be imprisoned instead of being sent to the gallows.
I beg to disagree that this is a good result, as it implies that Van died so that McCrea could live. Rather, it should be the other way.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....I want to ask the lawyers here. If McCrea didn't have to hang, would it be a precedent?

I mean if committed capital offence, we must try the hardest to run to Australia, confessed there, then no hang? Or need to be ang mo also?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Mei Ling:

In Singapore, murder conviction --> death sentence. No judicial discretion.

Death sentence theoretically can be commuted by the President to life imprisonment.

However, if the deal is that McCrea must not die, then there is no point (a) prosecuting him for murder; (b) getting him convicted; and then (c) asking the President to commute the sentence. At stage (a) alone, diplomatic relations with Australia would be strained. Therefore the best solution is simply to immediately proceed on a non-murder charge.

Anthony:

Not sure about the "extradite or prosecute" principle. Assuming that S'pore did not agree, I do not know whether McCrea could be guilty in an Australian court for anything at all.

This is because the crime was committed entirely outside Australia, and McCrea is not an Australian citizen (things would be different if he had fled to the UK). Therefore technically under Australian laws, McCrea would not have committed any offence.

Assuming that Australia COULD have prosecuted McCrea, the result at best (or at worst, depending on your perspective) would also be a very long sentence (since Australia has abolished death sentence). Since the potential end result is the same as in Singapore, McCrea might as well be prosecuted in Singapore.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Anonymous (Friday, June 30, 2006 12:23:43 PM):

An interesting idea which I'm sure the drug traffickers in Singapore would certainly take note of.

Anonymous said...

Why do I always get the impression that Asian lives are cheaper? :(

JoE said...

That's why so many local football fans celebrated when the Italians dumped the Socceroos out of the World Cup.

Anonymous said...

But it's safe to be an austalian leh....

Favourite choice for migration for many Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

"Why do I always get the impression that Asian lives are cheaper? :( "

Collectivism vs Individualism. To some, the poor old vs the new truth. But the world functions pragmatically to achieve ideals, as in this case.

- M

matthew said...

Wonldn't it be better now to extradite him back to Australia or UK and keep them in their jails? Make sure he does not return to Singapore again. I'm not sure - what is the dollar and cents involved in keeping him in Singapore's jail for 24 years? It is taxpayer's money. I do not support the death penalty either, but I'm not sure tax payer's money should keep him here. Yah...guess I am confused...dah... This is one of those things that tells me Singapore lives are cheap - recall the 2 dimembered bodies, and the philipino maid was spared, but the Singaporean chap was not - I guess our post-Contamplacion era has made a mockery out of our system. Maybe it is better to be fair to all and remove the death sentence, regardless of your nationality.

wert said...

Maybe we are lucky already.
It seems African lives are cheaper.

http://singabloodypore.blogspot.com/2006/06/stop-unlawful-execution-of-africans-m.html

Anonymous said...

"If McCrea didn't have to hang, would it be a precedent?"

Australia might eventually get fed up. Singapore might question how murderers and traffickers can get into Australia so easily. Can always send them to Australia's Guantanamo (Nauru) and from there repatriate them here, no questions asked.

Second, assuming the prosecution would have gone for a murder charge, but for Australia's intervention, it is strange to see the prosecution itself using a legal loophole to avoid the dilemma of a mandatory death sentence. In other cases where there are mitigating circumstances, could not the prosecution then let the judge off the bind of mandatory death sentences? Must they always go for the throat (literally)? Or is there a case for giving judges some discretion in sentencing?

Andrew said...

".. (c) asking the President to commute the sentence" would be the mechanism to convict McCrea of murder and keep him locked up for life. After all, there's enough forensic evidence that he did kill and plot to dispose of the body. As it is, he will be out sooner than the 24 years, since his Ang Moh face will automatically qualify for "good behavior". Meaning, in 8 years time, he will be free to kill again. And again. And again.

yh said...

i don't think the reporter misunderstood the criminal law system. More the case of him not understand the case he is reporting.

the length of the sentence seems to have surprised the accused and his lawyer.

Are consecutive jail term common?
Credit to the judge; McCrea thought he can get away with murder.

matthew said...

haha - he did get away with murder. It is manslaughter -remember?

kwayteowman said...

What saved McCrea's life was that the fella ran fast enough and to the right place, not Nguyen Tuong Van.

While some will claim that Singapore wasn't completely held at gun point to comply with Australia's wishes, that's pretty bogus too.

Singapore was faced with one of two choices: (i) agree not to hang the fella; or (ii) accept that he will remain beyond the reach of our law. With or without the Nguyen Tuong Van case, the Australian Government wouldn't have had the political will to extradite McCrea to Singapore to be hanged.

I agree with Singapore's choice of the lesser of two evils, i.e. to agree not to hang McCrea. As yh says, kudos to the judge for figuring out how to rationalize this messy affair.

This was not a plea bargaining case. The media must learn not to anyhow report and the AGC should reconsider its position to always remains silent.

The KTM is somewhat pleased with the outcome of the case. This case could have messed up our criminal justice system pretty badly.

Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

Anonymous said...

The 24 years will reduce to 16 years, not 8 years, upon his good behaviour.

Anonymous said...

If he was Singaporean, he would be hanged.

He lives because he was not.

That is justice?

Then, might as well don't bring him back?! Let him continue to kill in Australia.

Anonymous said...

I think justice is served by bringing him back. Many would want to know and have a closure on this case. But what to do with him now? Mr Wang, how far away is Singapore from abolising the death sentence for all Singaporeans - because we believe in the Yellow ribbon project - in giving people a second chance? Or is it just too costly to keep them all in jail - hell - just hang them. If Singaporeans - easy. If Philpino, Indonesian maid - tough. Ang Moh - make them teach English in School for free...

Anonymous said...

If you don't bring him back, he will eventually be a free man in Australia. Don't forget, he has committed no crime in Australia.

Bringing back - at least he gets 24 years.

Anonymous said...

This case is really weird - what with the other European mother coming to help and keeping the kid with a baby sitter, and another Singaporean chap helping with the bodies etc etc. Really interested to find out more on those other chaps. Weeeird.

Anonymous said...

Hey pappie apologists out there: any more doubts about the KANGAROO COURTS in Singapore? Any questions?

SSSSSHHHHHH. Shut it. It doesn't matter; I don't want to listen to them even if you have. Now go away.

Anonymous said...

????

The courts did a great job here. They can't be faulted in any way.
You're probably not understanding the discussion.

Anonymous said...

This probably will help us get back on track with the open skies deal with Quantas?

Now I know why LHL was in Austalia recently.

Can't be all that bad lah. Hope the Aussies don't play us out again. Take already, never return favour!

Anonymous said...

While it is admirable that you firmly oppose the death penalty no matter what, you should probably couch your thanksgivings in more tactful terms. How about saying that McCrea's life was excused, rather than saved? He is a victim of no other than his own actions. He murdered two people in cold blood, and 20 yrs, though legally unfaultable (if your argument is correct), is definitely ridiculous. In your haste to condemn the death penalty, don't forget that this man showed no mercy to someone and was willing to kill over an insult.



Mugster

Anonymous said...

To Joe,
most are betting Italy to win. $$ is at stake here and the penalty saved many assess. Nothing to do with anti-socceroos and what not.

Anthony said...

Mr Wang,

Ah - you're right. "Extradite or prosecute" only applies if two or more countries can prosecute the accused. That means that Singapore indeed would have had to face the choice of either (i) letting McCrea walk or (ii) getting him extradited to Singapore in exchange for charging him for some lesser offense than murder.

This would mean that it is prosecutorial discretion, not judicial discretion that saved McCrea's life. If prosecutor charge McCrea for murder and the judge finds him guilty, the judge will NOT be able to sentence him to anything less than death. Likewise, if the prosectutor does not charge for murder, judges cannot impose the death sentence.

singaporean said...

I think everybody is reading too much into the Australian angle. If Singapore signs an extradition treaty with any country with no death penalty, you can be sure that country will demand that Singapore will not impose the death penalty on anybody extradited from that country. I seriously doubt Australians will show an ounce of gratitude. Similarly, if Nguyen Van Tuong's twin brother is stupid enough to get caught in Changi airport carrying heroin again, he will be hanged too.

If Singapore does not agree to waiving the death penalty, Singapore will be in breach of the treaty. No extradition. No charges. McCrea walk away scot-free.

(Some years back, a Taiwanese actor fled to Hong Kong under suspicion that he killed his wife. Since Taiwan and Hong Kong had no extradition treaty, he got away scot-free. He even had a thriving career in Hong Kong drama serials).

However, that doesnt mean 24 years jail time is a fair sentence. The next heaviest sentence, after the death penalty, is life imprisonment - recently re-interpreted as imprisonment till death, rather than twenty years.

While I am no fan of a long prison term (in fact, I prefer the death penalty to an excessively long prison term), since we practice it, then there must be some fairness in the sentencing.

I wasnt following the case closely, so my knee-jerk reaction was that the judge copped out. It turn out that wasnt the case. It was the prosecution that was wimping out. The two culpable homicide charges were ridiculously light and tied the hands of the judge.

I am no lawyer, but as I understand it, culpable homicide differs from murder in that the perpetrator may not have planned the kill in advance, and may not have anything to gain the process.

It would probably be hard to get a murder conviction for the killing of the Singaporean. But to move on and smoulder the witness clearly shows that a cool head and cold blood is at work. For the prosecution to shy away from the murder charge, it is a gross miscarriage of justice, IMHO.

Perhaps this is where our laws are stupid. There is no flexibility for the judge's on the sentencing. Murder conviction => gallows. So the prosecution have to do the thinking for the judge. But 24 years in prison is a long long way from imprisonment till death. Perhaps even the judge was embarassed by the light sentence he was forced to pass, because he refuse to backdate the sentence to take into account the time McCrea spent under arrest (which amounted to 4 years), which is really the normal thing to do.

Of course, I am sure the extradition treaty would have tolerated a death sentence that would be commuted to life imprisonment by the President. But as usual, our government, for the sake of expendiency and fear of bad press in the angmo world, will just apply one system for the angmos and one system for the non-angmos.

Short of McCrea starting some serious trouble in prison, he will be out after 18 years. If it was a Singaporean or some other non-angmo race involved, I seriously doubt he will ever ever leave Changi Prison breathing, whether or not he was extradited from Australia.

PS Most creatures in the animal kingdom, when fighting their own kind, do not fight to death. There comes a point where a winner emerges and the fight ends. It is the same with humans. It is hard for humans to kill humans without a specially designed weapon like a knife or gun. When a man hits another man, we usually aim for body parts that will hurt but will not kill. It takes specialised training to reprogram our heads to strike vulnerable parts like the neck or a lot of hatred to stomp on a fallen adversary to death.

It takes only a few seconds to strangle/smoulder someone unconscious. It takes at least a whole minute of further strangulation/smouldering to kill. Far more than enough time for anybody to think about what they did, and what will happen if they dont stop.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Singaporean:

1. Does Singapore have an extradition treaty with Australia? Have not heard of it - perhaps I'm out of touch. But if I'm right to believe that there isn't, then quite a bit of what you said just doesn't follow.

2. You may not also appreciate the evidential aspects of the case. This is the kind of case - like Huang Na - where the only evidence as to what happened at the specific time of killing depends solely on the accused persons (Audrey & Michael themselves). In other words, when giving their police statements, if Audrey and Michael stuck resolutely to a mutually consistent story that didn't amount to murder, it is quite possible that the prosecution cannot prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt.

3. Besides, Singaporean, you still skipped over the basic point. If the prosecution decided to proceed on murder - well, basically they'll just never get McCrea for anything. Because McCrea will not be available. He'll stay on in Australia.

4. Backdating is as normal as not backdating. Actually, not backdating is more normal than backdating.

5. I think the President would rather be spared the political embarrassment of commuting death to life because the Australian government had an agreement with the S'pore government to do so.

Anonymous said...

I am not a lawyer, just a layman. To me, this chap can't have "accidentally" kill 2 people.

Being provoked is not a good reason to kill. This guy is no saint. All I can say is, he's lucky to have run road.

However, I am just curious, will a Singaporean be so "protected" in a similar situation?

What Howard was willing to do for the Vietnamese, I can't imagine PM doing it for us, even if it was only a show to win political support?

singaporean said...

Ok, my ignorance shows. I have no idea if this extradition is a one-time agreement or as a result of a treaty. But, with google as my friend, I found this article "Submission of the NEW SOUTH WALES COUNCIL FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
to the Minister for Justice and Customs’ review of Australia’s Extradition Law dated 7 Apr 2006", and in it, I quote,



"35 Under the Extradition Act 1988
(Cth) the federal Attorney-General has the final say on who will be extradited from Australia. The Attorney-General can only authorise the extradition of an individual for a capital offence if the extradition country undertakes that:

(i) the person will not be tried for the offence; [or]
(ii) if the person is tried for the offence, the death penalty will not be imposed on the person;
[or]
(iii) if the death penalty is imposed on the person, it will not be carried out.
36. This discretion was examined in the Federal Court case of
McCrea v Minister for Customs & Justice.

In that case an applicant facing
extradition to Singapore for the capital offence of murder unsuccessfully challenged an undertaking, given by the Singaporean government to the
Australian government, not to execute him if he was found guilty."




I dont see anything that rules out the possibility of a murder conviction.

Maybe the DPP was kiasu, I wouldnt know. But McCrea admitted that killing of the PRC lady was to eliminate an eye-witness. Sounds like a home run murder conviction to me.

IMHO, someone between the prosecution, the President and the cabinet, somebody is behaving like a coward to me.

Not backdating a sentence amounts to an expansion power. I'm surprised Mr Wang says it not backdating is normal too. But, what do I know... I'm no lawyer.

singaporean said...

BTW, Singapore is quite capable of prosecuting murderers even in total absence of hard evidence. Remember the human curry case? There was no body, no murder weapon, nothing. The only evidence available was the victim's father-in-law bragging about his role while drunk. Remember what the government did? Internal Security Act. They even sent a DPP to my school then to extol the benefits of the ISA, citing the case as an example. ("They will get away scot-free otherwise!")

Mr Wang Says So said...

Well, Anonymous, McCrea definitely didn't "accidentally" kill two people. If he did, he would be a free man today. Instead he gets 24 years.

Singaporean:
Well, one thing you don't know, and which the prosecution does, is the quality of the evidence which the police have gathered. Where there is no direct evidence of what happened at the scene of the crime, the evidence really depends on what McCrea and Audrey say in their police statements - which may not be that clearcut.

Have you ever considered this interesting possibility - if both claim trial and both point fingers to each other as the killer, a reasonable doubt could be raised as to which one did it - since there is a reasonable doubt, BOTH walk free even though at least one of them must have done it.

Heheh.

singaporean said...

Mr Wang,

we do have two bodies and we do know for sure the cause of death. Unless Audrey Ong is a 1.8m tall female body builder or received training in military special services, I think it is a big stretch of imagination to even consider the possibility of her manually strangling Kho to death by herself.

If anything, I would personally prefer McCrea say the couple were already dead when they got home and he saw a one-armed man running away, (You know...The Fugitive...) but he panicked and disposed of the bodies instead of calling the police.

If the quality of evidence is so flimsy that the prosecution cant even prove McCrea personally killed the couple, he would be a big fool to plead guilty to culpable homicide.

Anyway, that wasnt McCrea's confession. I dont know if the confession was made before or after the plea bargain, but he clearly admitted that he killed Laan because she was an eye-witness, and improved on the killing technique by using a plastic bag instead of a physically exhausting arm lock. If that is still culpable homicide, then there can be no murder in Singapore.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Well, Singaporean, it may really be that simple. Or it may not.

On the critical issues, whatever we know (or think we know) is based on McCrea's police statement and Audrey's police statement.

And you know the nature of police statements, right? They are questionable in court.

---

Accused says: "I was forced to make this statement. What the statement says is untrue. They stripped me naked, put me in an air-conditioned, threw cold water at me and made me sit on a block of ice."

---

Accused says: "What I said in my statement is untrue. I lied because I loved Audrey and wanted to save her. The truth is, she planned the murder all along. She herself put the sleeping pills into the woman's drink and then killed her when she was comatose."
-----

Etc.

--------

Actually, this is one of the common difficulties that law students have in 4th year when studying the Law of Evidence.

You are so used to this kind of puzzle:

"The facts are A, B, C. Therefore the crime is ________."

that you forget that in real life, A, B, C are actually floating in the air, waiting to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; there could be unknowns D, E etc.

Reality is this:

---
Two people were killed. Two other people were in the room. They caused the killings.
---

Everything else you know, or think you know, is drawn from their police statements.

Which, as I have, is always open to challenge by themselves.

By the way, did you know that the word "drugs" came up, in connection with this trial? The word was mentioned a few times, in an oblique way, in the Statement of Facts. Something to do with McCrea searching in vain for the drugs that the dead man had hidden somewhere.

Would you like to put a conspiracy theory together on this?

Remember - the police and prosecution won't reveal any statements that aren't relevant to the chosen charges. You'd like to think up a story about the drug traffickers' fatal love rectangle involving the angmo cocaine network in Singapore?

And are you so sure that you really, really knew what happened in that apartment?

Anonymous said...

Asians are concubines in Singapore.

For Singaporeans,
"I feel like a concubine in my own country."

singaporean said...

Mr Wang,

all my experience in law may be limited to military law (which was mostly awol and drug abuse), tv shows (the practice, law and order, csi) or my very short course in law (half a module in uni).

I'm sure you are right in saying nobody but McCrea and Audrey would know what really did happen. But the prosecution does not need to account for all the infinite possibilities, or we will never get any murder conviction in Singapore, will we?

If there was a physical struggle with the two victims, the forensics team should not have a hard time finding the assailant's skin fragments, in the victims' fingernails perhaps.

If the victims' were drugged, traces of the drugs should be present in the stomach fluids of the victims.

Given the nature of the crime, I have trouble believing that the evidence can be flimsy to pin McCrea as the killer.

In contrast, if Took Leng How could shut his big mouth, I'd like to see how the prosecution could convict him based on Huang Na being last seen with him. I like to know how the police persuaded Took to bring them to the crime scene and to where he stash the body, and described what he did in excruciating details. In fact, IIRC, he even suggested that he did things to Huang Na that was contrary to the evidence. Almost like he wanted to die. And he did complain of police torture initially.

And I have said this before: could the police rule out the possibility that there is a third party involved; someone who has a grudge against the family of Huang Na or someone who likes to watch a snuff film, live?

And in any case, the evidence was flimsy enough to convince one Appeal Judge to reduce his charge to voluntarily causing hurt.

Nevertheless, Took is unlikely to escape the gallows, while McCrea has already received the maximum sentence.

Sidenote: Many people looked at the cute photo of Nguyen and commented he was too young to die. Did you know that Took is younger than Nguyen?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Singaporean:

Those were only examples of what could happen at trial. The thing is, we do not know what might crop up at trial nor do we know the strength of the prosecution's evidence right now (based on McCrea's & Audrey's statements) - only the prosecution themselves ( and possibly McCrea & Audrey).

It is not at all unusual for an accused to suddenly raise a new point at trial (eg "X was intoxicated by Y") and then it may be too late for the police to investigate this (eg X's body has been incinerated).

Of course, adverse inferences can be drawn under s 116(g) of the Evidence Act for not mentioning the fact earlier. It is then up to the accused to provide a plausible explanation for why it had not been raised (eg "I had lied earlier to save Audrey" or "I did tell the police, but they refused to believe me and refused to record it down in my statement.")

Now we spin into endless permutations, but really my basic point is this -

we DON'T know how strong the evidence is. The prosecution knows, but what the prosecution knows isn't public knowledge. You THINK that the prosecution should have an easy time proving murder; they may not.

Assume for example McCrea and Audrey were unusually sharp-thinking and clever and had given the most watertight statements conceivable under the circumstances (whatever statements those might be). The police don't believe them, but that's not good enough for conviction.

In the plea bargaining process, McCrea and Audrey finally agree to plead guilty if the charge is culpable homicide. But if the charge is murder, they will fight all the way (the prosecution then risks acquittal). Are you sure this is a good idea?

Remember - NOW there is a statement of facts, and the accused persons have admitted to it; and this is when you come in and say, "Oh, it would have been easy to prove murder". But if you had proceeded on murder, they wouldn't have admitted to that statement of facts; and then, you see, you wouldn't be so quick to say "Oh, it would have been easy to prove murder".

Finally, what you're hoping for is death ---> life,

as opposed to 24 years.

Who knows what happened in the Aus

Anonymous said...

Put it this way.... to me I feel if it was one murder....okay benefit of the doubt, could be an real accident. but two persons dead??? and man slaughter?? smells fishy.

Anonymous said...

But it's not an accident. If it was an accident, McCrea wouldn't have been given 24 years.

lee hsien tau said...

I think it's a given ... the need to be ang mo also.

Porcorosso is correct. Definitely worrying.

McCrea didn't just kill one person. He killed two. Yet McCrea didn't use a Weapon of Mass Destruction. And he was no raging bull like the HULK. Even if the death of his driver wasn't premeditated, the death of the driver's girlfriend had to be. The motive was to silence a witness.

I don't agree with Mr Wang: "If the Singapore government had not entered into those arrangements with the Australian government, McCrea would never have been brought here and convicted at all."

You don't want to be McCrea's cellmate. He can now murder for a banana or a slice of bread. The Emperor has granted him a "Mien Tse Jing Pai".

What does it say of the PAP principles and Wong Kan Seng and the right to swing your arm no further than somebody else's nose? Remember Michael Fay and the German girl?

The rage now is skin whitening. The backside needs it more than the face.

And whilst I'm at it, Chong Chee Kin never writes anything that isn't skewed. Read this

Anonymous said...

I would say bringing him back to Singapore does not constitute justice done.

It's only half done. Second-best Justice. Because, according to our laws, he should be hanged ( I expect he would, if he had been Singaporean).

Whether one supports capital punishment is not the issue, it's the extent of justice being applied here? One country, 2 systems.

His case is not doing our legal system any credit, in my opinion.

But, I can understand the reasons for the compromise.

We are pragmatic, never idealistic in Singapore.

Mr Wang Says So said...

But which part of this:

"If the Singapore government had not entered into those arrangements with the Australian government, McCrea would never have been brought here and convicted at all."

... do you not agree with?

Australian law forbids the Australian federal AG from sending McCrea back to Singapore unless Singapore agrees that McCea will not hang.

"35 Under the Extradition Act 1988
(Cth) the federal Attorney-General has the final say on who will be extradited from Australia. The Attorney-General can only authorise the extradition of an individual for a capital offence if the extradition country undertakes that:

(i) the person will not be tried for the offence; [or]
(ii) if the person is tried for the offence, the death penalty will not be imposed on the person;
[or]
(iii) if the death penalty is imposed on the person, it will not be carried out."

So if McCrea is never sent back here, how could he ever be convicted in Singapore?

singaporean said...

We have a Singaporean convicted of double murder in Australia, to be sentenced within the next few days. If he gets 20 years or less, I will have to grudgingly accept that the Aussie government could have placed a cap on the sentence as a condition of extradition.

Somehow I doubt this will happen though. From what I googled, even a manslaughter conviction in Australia carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in NSW, life imprisonment in Queensland and South Australia, and 20 years in Western Australia and Victoria. Death penalty aside, Australian law seem even tougher on criminals than Singaporean law.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Because, according to our laws, he should be hanged ( I expect he would, if he had been Singaporean)."

---

The above is an interesting comment. On further thought, I think that even if McCrea had been Singaporean, the Australian government would have acted in the same way -

that is, Australia's federal AG would still be bound by Australian law NOT to extradite McCrea unless the Singapore govt had first agreed that McCrea would not hang.

Anonymous said...

:)

Mr Wang's reply implied the lack of a precedent in such a case?

It certainly confirms why so many amongst us prefer Australia!

But, I am sure if he had remained grounded in Singapore and had been a Singaporean (for that matter, a foreigner too), the sentence definitely will be given to him. I give credit to our legal system.

That's why I had opined that this is pragmatic justice. All things considered, I have no qualms with the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Well, GCT said Tang Liang Hong wanted to come back. In the light of this case, I'd doubt very much what GCT said.

lee hsien tau said...

>But which part of this:

"If the Singapore government had not entered into those arrangements with the Australian government, McCrea would never have been brought here and convicted at all."

... do you not agree with?<


Has Mr Wang suddenly gone thick in the head?

Huang Na went missing. Huang Na was just a kid. Her mother searched frantically for her. She
searched high and low,
chased every conceivable shadow,
until the air-time she received was more than the coverage the PAP got vilifying James Gomez in the run-up to the recently held election. She would've searched Bintan, Batam, and Johore Bahru if she were offered more air-time. Eventually, of course, she didn't find Huang Na, but found enough white gold that would've made Durai green with envy.

Can you see the kind of trouble McCrea's personal driver's PRC girlfriend could've been capable of? For all the intelligence IMH attributed to Took Leng How, he wasn't aware of the virtues of the simple plastic bag, but McCrea was. You have no problem with Took swinging from the end of a rope whilst leaving McCrea breathing?

It's all about setting a precedent, isn't it? When a murder is committed, Mr Wong Kan Seng doesn't instinctively know. A body has to show up or somebody has to report a missing person. The reason why McCrea managed to get all the way to Australia was because he snuffed out the one person who would miss the dearly departed, thus buying himself some extra time (it would've been even better if he had invested in a few bags of cement). Yet he is being seen to be rewarded for his effort.

Last I heard, McCrea thinks 24 - 8 = 16 or 24 / 2 = 12 is bad math, and is appealing.

Don't you get it? McCrea, from Britain, chose to flee to its former penal colony. Now who's going to want to migrate to the UK until it revises its extradition treatise?

Anonymous said...

I've followed this case closely since January 2002 - even drove up to the 7th floor of Orchard Towers car park and saw all the blue/white poice tape around where the Daewoo was parked. I've read and kept virtually every Australian, Singaporean and British press release since that time, and can't beleive that it has taken 4.5 years for it to be fully settled (McCrea's appeal aside). My 2 cents' worth:
a) Mr Wang states that the prosecution was forced to charge McCrea with a non-capital offence crime, in order to comply with the earlier agreement that McCrea not be sent to the gallows. I couldn't disagree more with this statement. In fact in late 2002/early 2003, the 2nd Solicitor General to Singapore travelled to Melbourne and gave a statement in court (I believe it was the Supreme Court at that stage), stating that if McCrea were extradicted to Singapore and subsequently found guilty of murder, he would not face the death penalty. This was rejected by the Australian courts, since it was not an "undertaking". Once the "undertaking" was written, the court agreed to the request for extradiction. So my point being, if the 2nd Solicitor General to Singapore can state in an Australian court that McCrea will not face the DP should he be convicted of murder, then it must be possible for him to be charged with murder (and for the prosecution to proceed with these charges should they have enough evidence).
Look at this hypothetical: The prosecution proceeds with the charge of murder, McCrea claims trial, McCrea is found guilty of at least one count of murder. The judge in his sentencing says words to the effect of: "The penal code requires that I sentence you to death by hanging. However, on instruction from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I am required to commute this sentence to life imprisonment".
Indeed, this is what I thought would end up happening.
Interestingly, McCrea's Australian legal team used this very hypothetical situation at an early stage in their defence to his extradiction to Singapore. They basically said that the Singapore Constitution does not allow for the judge to commute a death sentence.

So we really need a constitutional or legal expert to say what a judge could or couldn't do in the case that McCrea was found guilty of murder.

b) Not backdating the sentence. This was one of the biggest shocks with the sentencing. I am suprised that this is not the norm in Singapore as it makes sense for time already served in custody (equivalent to prison) to count towards a sentence. What was even more suprising was that Audrey Ong's 12 year sentence was actually backated to time she was taken into custody in the Dame Phyllis Frost center in Melbourne, yet McCrea's sentence wasn't. Seems to be rather inconsistent. The prison in Melbourne spent 2002 until his extradiction is not known as a holiday camp. The judge gave his reasons for not backdating the sentence, ie that McCrea had just delayed the trial (there was no trial in the end) by appealing his extradiction to the Full Court of the Federal Court. But this should be more a refelction on how slow and red-taped the Australian legal process is.

I think that on appeal, McCrea's sentence being backdated to the time he was taken into custody is the most likely to be changed.

3) Ang mohs receive favourable treatment in the criminal justice system in Singapore. Now, Singapore's population is 4.6m of which less than 2% are ang mohs. Despite this, 2 ang mohs have been hanged in Singapore in the past 15 years - an Englishman for murder, and a Dutch guy for drugs. If ang mohs received such favourable treatment, why weren't their sentences commuted to life imprisonment by the President???
The truth is (as mentioned by someone earlier), McCrea would not have been extradicted to ANYWHERE in the world if he was facing capital charges, irrespecive of his race/religion/nationality/sex, etcetc. So, from this, you might want to conclude that Australia is some sort of "haven" for anyone in the world who commits capital offences abroad, as Australia is not permitted to extradict people facing the DP.

4) The criminal law in Australia is harsher compared to Singapore's, given the maximum sentences for manslaughter quotes in the various states. This is actually quite false. The Singapore criminal justice system is much tougher and hands out much longer sentences on average for virtually every crime you can imagine. The manslaughter sentences were maximum (at stated), but bear in mind that Australian courts, for some unknown reason, very rarely handout maximum sentences. In fact, they are far more likely to be over lenient and give a very light sentence, to such an extent that victims and their families are quite often left feeling cheated, angry and scared. Believe me, this is life in Australia - just read the newspapers and you will see every day some of the weakest penalties for very violent crimes (eg less than a year in jail for armed robbery of a post office - while armed with a shotgun).
I'm not sure about manslaughter convictions - probably 5-10 years would be an average sentence. For murder in Australia, the mandatory sentence is life, however, judges are required to fix a "non parole period" ie time spent in custody, which is generally 15 - 25 years, very rarely is it more than this. Yes, that's right, convicted murderers in Australia spend about 20 years in prison despite receiving a life sentence. It is so weak it is laughable, yet the electorate puts up with it.

Anonymous said...

Well,Well,Well,
It seems all you so called Legal experts in Singapore have it all worked out on the Michael McCrea case.But what amaze's me,is how you all sit back on your backsides and post comments all over the world on a subject you obviously know nothing about, including the Law !!

Michael McCrea is 100%innocent !!

The only crime is, You fool's in singapore,imprisoned a totally innocent father of ( 2 ) for life.
And being imprisoned for life,for something any man would have done.(in the same situation ).
I my self have just stabbed (4) men here in Australia. Yes thats right,(4).And the vermin that I stabbed?? They went to prison !!
Here in Australia,Unlike you backward tree swingers, We are protected from drug crazed scum.

THEY, come to harm,rob and kill.It is their intent to create the intire situation.If there is no attack ? There is no defence required.Therefore " No " situation at all.

Firstly girls and Boys,lets educated you ,who are obviously in the dark, And that means every one of you who claim to be ,or think they know,anything about the law,or this entire case!!

Firstly, The two deceased !!

Little Miss buttons & bows,Suzie !
How was it, a chinese national with no passport,living away from "her" husband and children was in Guan's company in Singapore? Working as a so called teacher? OK But here in Australia we call it PROSTITUTION !! HOOKING !!
Do you people have borders or something over there ? How was it,She was living with Guan, in Michael McCrea's luxury appartment? Upon her death, did anyone find a Tax or Group certificate to show how she afforded such a Luxury lifestyle? NO.
And her husband in china? He knew she was sharing a bed with Guan? NO.
She was HOOKING,and Guan was her PIMP!! Guan would drop her at all the hot spots,and she would bring home the CASH !!
Was she the only one Guan was driving around in McCrea's new car ? Shit no !!
Guan had plenty,Just like her,and they were all,bringing home the Bucks!!
What little she did make,she was saving, to bring the whole family from china.And she was on her back with legs up Paying for there tickets. FACT.

Here in this so called tollerant country,Australia, We have a thing called immigration,Obviously,
you in singapore,Don't.

All Guan's little flock,were using drugs, Did anyone in the so called Law or Justice department, happen to do a toxicology report on the deceased? Whoops,must have forgot !

Because if they did,it would have clearly shown,Both,deceased,where in fact,Off their Dials on Ice & Extasy .Fact !

Here in Australia,of our hospitals are going through major reconstruction. We are currently building secuity rooms ,for Ice users.Our medical staff won't go near paitents on these types of drugs,for example ,a 65kg woman,
has the power in one arm to throw a 100kg nurse across the room.

Oh,and After McCrea caught Guan with his hand in the "Cookie Jar" He asked them both to pack their bags and leave,Guan then started a Fight,knowing he had just killed his income ,and he was without a "HOOKER" transport vehical.

Ong barracaded herself in her bedroom,while they packed.Guan re-entered the lounge where the previous scuffle had taken place,Snuck up on a Half drunk McCrea,and smashed a large stoneware vase over McCrea's head,from behind sending him to the floor.

McCrea,with blood streaming down his face(on one knee,one palm of his hand still flat on the floor)wiping away the blood with the other hand,just managed to look up through the blood to see the Jagged half of the already smashed vase hit him right in the head ,Nearly,
severing his other hand in half!! Fact....

While he was lying in a pool of his own blood,barely conscious, The pair of drug crazed scumbags,ransacked the appartment looking for what ever they could get their hands on.They knew they were homeless without an income.

When Guan came back into the room,
McCrea was standing against the wall to support himself with a Iron Poker in his hand like a walking-stick,you might say.

The lovely white tiles in that appartment,were enough to give the cleaning lady a heart-attack.

Michael McCrea is no street fighter,but then again,he is a strong man.

He knew if guan attacked again,he would surely die in that appartment.

Are all you experts still with me on this subject ???? Good,Because
here in Australia,we call it self defence.

And if there is anyone out there who would not have fought back in this situation,this is where the story stops for you....YOU WOULD
HAVE BEEN,IN FACT ,MURDERED !!!!

Audrey Ong was a very lucky girl.
If Guan had finished the job,she
would have been next.It absolutly
shocked me,to her she gave evidence against McCrea.He saved her life,And she saw nothing from
behind closed doors ???

When Audrey Contacted me,she had a
totally different story.It was only after the Singapore Government sent her family to
Australia,she changed her story...

Strange that,don't you think ???

By the way,I have that in writing,
complete with a lovely drawing she did for me...

I have more paperwork and accountable facts on this subject,
than everybody put together in both Singapore and Australia. And that includes Judges,Solicitors,
Ministers and family members put together.

But all you so called legal experts know, you don't believe everything you read,especially in
a country like singapore who's Government own and run all
media.

I didn't !!

After you get to live in a small
confined space for months on end,
Hearing the nightmares of your cell-mate,and lying there listening to what makes him wake screaming,I can tell you this,
Mr Michael McCrea has no secrets from me.............Besides,He wrote it all down in his own
handwriting ,And when I was released from prison,I brought it all home.FACT.

Another Crim you ask ?

What was my crime ?

Make threat to kill a stinking,
lying,reporter!! Who Dosen't I ask.

Lets define the word reporter for you people in Singapore.

A nosey ,anoying ,big mouth,who manipulates the truth for their own advantage and can't keep a secret.FACT.

I could fill you in on every detail , of what happened over
those few days,including over 700 photo's of the crime scene,letters
from both parties,Autopsy etc etc
But I wouldn't want to confuse you all.

I mean to say,You legal masterminds are only writing about what took place nearly (5)
years ago!!!And that is after the man has "FRIED"...Where were all you hero's with you stinking legal opinions when Mr Michael McCrea needed you?

What,to shit scared to voice your opinions in your own country?

You,All of you ,are a discrace to your profession.you all sat back on you arse's and never said Boo.

If you people knew the backgrounds
of the victims like I do,you would
have hung them long before Michael McCrea killed them in self defence. and that is a FACT.

To put Michael McCrea in a "peanut",
If you stood on Michael McCrea's
toe,he would apologise for being
in the way.

You all enjoy the read,this is not a story,it's a tragedy.

And that is a FACT.

E said...

Make that father of 4, that would make me his 2nd- please keep your meddlesome attitude to yourself, as is this really any of your business. Especially when making extremely harsh comments & not accommodating the true facts only a fabrication of the media.

Phil Stearman said...

well , E , who ever the hell you are, My name is Philip Stearman, and Michael McCrea is my Friend !! you on the other hand , seem to me to be a spineless turd !! whats Your name , E, ?? just as i thought, another weak singapore arse-hole.. Mr NO-NAME !! hahaha ,is it any wonder McCrea is in prison, Heart-less turds like you, voicing your useless opinions , AFTER , he has been sentenced.. Don't waste my time..you and your whole nation , suck !! and thats a FACT !! lol

Phil Stearman said...

And " E " haha ( not short for EGGHEAD is it ? lol.. to back my so called fabrication , i have 11.5 kilos of the origional transcript, 20+ hand written letters ( both from McCrea & Audery Ong )all this paperwork is signed and stamped with the seal of the singapore government.. its signed by over 23 high court judges, minister of law, minister of justice, the australian DPP, and the australian minister of justice ... What the hell you got " E " ?? lol i'll tell you .. Nothing except you miserable opinion.. I HAVE FACTS and PURE EVIDENCE !! haha have a nice day " EGGHEAD " Wondering what happened on that day... I have FACTS... Phil Stearman

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