Reported in Today Online on 22 December 2020
On 22 December 2020, a 25-year-old man (“the Accused”) was sentenced to a week’s jail after lying several times in his divorce petition that his wife had refused to consummate their marriage.
The Accused and his wife tied the knot on 19 January 2017. Following their marriage, they engaged in consensual sex several times between January and July 2017. In the middle of June 2017, the Accused’s wife found out that her husband had an affair.
The next month, the Accused approached his wife and proposed to annul their marriage on the basis that it had not been consummated, as it was cheaper that way. He also promised to give his wife some stocks, to maintain appearances in front of her parents and to assist his wife in her future requests.
After she agreed, the Accused started annulment proceedings on 19 July 2017. The Accused dishonestly stated in the statement of claim that his wife had refused to have sex after the marriage.
On this basis, the Accused sought an order that the marriage be declared null and void. In addition, the Accused stated that his wife was “not in the mood” and went “straight to sleep” on their wedding night, when the Accused tried to initiate physical intimacy. However, investigations later surfaced that the couple did indeed continue having consensual sex in August and October 2017.
The prosecution sought two weeks’ jail for the Accused, and added that the Accused should have “gone through the divorce route instead”, and had benefitted from the change in his legal status.
The Accused was represented by Ms. Chong Xin Yi of Gloria James-Civetta & Co. During mitigation proceedings, Ms. Chong said that while the Accused did not file any police reports during his marriage, the police had been called to an incident where the Accused was “placed in an extremely difficult situation and had been desperate to get out of that”. She also argued that the Accused was only 21 years old at the time of the offence and has a clean criminal record.
Under the now repealed section 209 of the Penal Code (Cap 224), the Accused could have been jailed up to two years and fined, for making a false claim before a court of justice.