Judge: He's a man without honour

He is cleared of corruption charges, but not of the way that he "abused his position and exploited" his former student, Ms Darinne Ko.

This was what Justice Woo Bih Li said of Mr Tey Tsun Hang, a former law professor with the National University of Singapore (NUS) when delivering his judgment during Mr Tey's appeal hearing last Friday.

Mr Tey, 42, was convicted last June of corruptly obtaining gifts - a Montblanc pen, two CYC tailor-made shirts, an iPod and dinner at Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar - and two counts of sex from Ms Ko in exchange for better grades.

Calling Mr Tey "a man without honour", Justice Woo said: "He took advantage of her to satisfy his greed and his lust. He did not even take responsibility when she told him that she was pregnant.

"Instead, he lied to her that he had no money when he told her to get rid of the baby."

Mr Tey was sentenced to five months' jail and made to pay a penalty of $514.80. He was also sacked by NUS after his conviction.

Justice Woo said that Mr Tey's sentences would be set aside even though he has finished serving them before the appeal was heard.

The judge noted that Mr Tey had pressed for a later hearing date despite the Registry of the Supreme Court fixing early hearing dates because he "needed more time to give meaningful instructions to my counsel".

The $514.80 will be refunded and the Montblanc pen and iPod will be returned to him.

Said Justice Woo: "Had the appeal been heard before the appellant completed serving his sentence, the High Court could have made an appropriate oral order or judgment after hearing the appeal pending the release of the written judgment or grounds of decision."

Explaining his reasons for accepting Mr Tey's appeal, he said the former professor may have breached NUS policies and exploited Ms Ko, but that did not amount to corruption.

While Justice Woo agreed with Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye's conclusion that there was no "mutually loving relationship" between Mr Tey and Ms Ko, it was clear that her cards, e-mails and notes to him "reinforced the point that Ms Ko was in love with the appellant throughout the period of the six acts of gratification".

During the trial, the court was told that Mr Tey had revealed confidential information like class ranking to Ms Ko.

'Not legally wrong'

Said Justice Woo: "On the appellant's part, the more logical inference is that he made this disclosure to win her over, but not necessarily to make her think that she could gain some dishonest advantage."

He concluded: "I am of the view that the (trial judge) had wrongly equated conduct which is morally reprehensible with conduct which is legally wrong."

The way Mr Tey conducted his defence during the trial also reflected poorly on him, the judge noted.

Other than making allegations against the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau officers "without caring about the truth", Mr Tey also "did not have the courtesy" to inform his own counsel of his absence at his appeal hearing until 10 minutes before it was scheduled to start, Justice Woo said.

"I hope he takes a long hard look at himself and changes for the better," he added.

fjieying@sph.com.sg

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