Jailed for planting cameras in fitting rooms

He knew that the hidden camera he planted in a fitting room had been spotted, so he wanted to find out if the police were on to him.

Instead of simply admitting to his wrongdoing, Zheng Zhongshi, 34, took advantage of his job at the Police Cantonment Complex, which gave him access to the Singapore Police Force's database.

The IT consultant then searched for details of whether a police report had been lodged.

But when he realised an investigation officer had already been assigned the case, Zheng turned himself in.

He was yesterday sentenced to 20 weeks' jail for insulting the modesty of women and for unauthorised access to a computer.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to six counts of using a computer without authorisation and four counts of insulting the modesty of a woman.

Another 45 similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Court documents show that on Sept 11 last year, Zheng bought two black hidden cameras that were disguised as clothing hooks at $98 each.

Two days later, at about noon, Zheng took the cameras to a Cotton On outlet at the White Sands mall in Pasir Ris, where he mounted them in separate fitting rooms to film women changing. He removed the cameras at about 10pm the same day.

DISCOVERED

On Sept 15, he went to a Cotton On outlet at Plaza Singapura at about 1pm, where he again mounted the hidden cameras in different fitting rooms.

But these were later discovered by shop staff who removed them and made a police report at about 4.50pm the same day.

At about 6.30pm, Zheng returned to Cotton On, hoping to retrieve his cameras. But they were gone.

On Sept 16, at about 2am, he reported for work at the Police Cantonment Complex where his employer NCS had a maintenance project dealing with the police CRIMES2 database.

Zheng's job was to support or guide police officers using the system.

While at work, he did multiple searches with various permutations to find if a police report had been made about the cameras in the Cotton On fitting room.

He eventually found out about the police report and that the case had been assigned to investigation officer Siti Rahimah Asmad.

At about 8.30am, Zheng contacted the officer and turned himself in.

Investigations revealed at least nine women who had been filmed.

In mitigation, Zheng's lawyer Louis Joseph said his client filmed these videos in a fitting room and not a toilet.

Furthermore, he had turned himself in, which saved the police from having to devote resources to identifying him.

District Judge Lim Tse Haw agreed that Zheng turning himself in was a mitigating factor.

But the judge noted that the cameras were put in fitting rooms accessible to members of the public and the women were recorded in their most intimate moments, in various states of undress.

Touching on his use of the police computers, the judge said: "The computer you breached was a system belonging to the police, concerns Singapore's security and has confidential information relating to police investigations.

"(If you were truly remorseful) you could surrender yourself when you saw the spy camera was removed and didn't need to search (the system)," Judge Lim added.

This is not the first hidden camera case involving a Cotton On outlet.

In March, a computer programmer was jailed eight weeks for secretly filming women in fitting rooms, including the Cotton On outlets at Wisma Atria and Bugis Junction.

In August, a 22-year-old student was jailed for filming women at several of the clothing chain's outlets.

One of the victims was a 14-year-old girl at Bedok Mall.


This article was first published on Dec 2, 2015.
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