SINGAPORE - It was love which finally acquitted former law professor Tey Tsun Hang of corruption charges on Friday - the love his student Darinne Ko had for him.
Her feelings were made clear in three cards and a note she wrote to him. They showed that the gifts she gave him, and the sex she had with him, were not because she expected good grades in return, but out of love, said Justice Woo Bih Li on Friday.
That meant there was no corrupt intent when the former law professor received the gifts between May and July 2010 during the relationship. He added the trial judge was wrong to not give more weight to these love-letters.
Mr Tey was allowed to submit the evidence during his 28-day Subordinate Court trial, in which he was found guilty in May last year and sentenced to five months in jail.
But then Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye, who is now a judicial commissioner, did not permit Mr Tey to recall Ms Ko, 24, as a witness so that she could be questioned on the love notes.
"Fortunately for the appellant, the contents of the three cards and the note speak for themselves," said Justice Woo.
Her writings painted a picture of a young woman infatuated with Mr Tey.
In a gift card accompanying an iPod she gave him, she wrote "your name is forever etched in my heart" and that "I have found my soul mate".
In another card, accompanying a Mont Blanc pen she gave him before she was to go on exchange to Duke University in the United States, she referred to him as "dearest dinosaur".
She wrote: "Also, I pray that you will not forget me when I leave and hopefully, you will occasionally (sic) remember me when you write. I know that you will certainly be in my heart every moment even though you will be 15,884 km away."
Justice Woo said these two cards showed that the National University of Singapore law student gave Mr Tey the gifts with no expectation of getting better grades.
"Ms Ko thought that her feelings for the appellant were reciprocated. She would not have thought that there was a need to be in his good books or that he might be unduly prejudiced against her. She was already in his good books and more than that, or so she believed," he said.
On his part, Mr Tey must have known from their relationship and the two cards that she was infatuated with him. There was nothing to suggest that he believed that she wanted something more than his love in return for the gifts, added the judge.
Even before she left for the US in August 2010, and shortly after they had sex, she wrote: "My darling I love you - my prince, my soulmate Let's never part."
Mr Tey, 42, decided to serve his sentence on June 26 last year despite being offered bail pending his appeal. On Sept 17, he was released from prison on home detention, which he completed on Oct 5.
Lawyers said because Mr Tey chose to go behind bars, he cannot claim for compensation.
"He can't turn around and seek redress for an option he took," said Mr Amolat Singh, adding that this was not a case of him being jailed because bail was denied.
Mr Shashi Nathan said the only redress would mean having to sue for malicious prosecution, but it was extremely difficult to prove malice.
The prosecution also has no right of appeal against Justice Woo's decision. It can take the case to the Court of Appeal only on points of law of public interest.
"The prosecution will study carefully the full written grounds of the High Court before deciding whether any further action is necessary," said the Attorney-General's Chambers in a statement.
FAREWELL CARD TO PROF
Thank you for the past two weeks. They have been like an amazing dream and now I almost dread reality. I will miss snuggling in your strong arms feeling warm and safe; your kisses, your loving touch and your sweet whispers. Most of all, thank you for letting me into your heart and letting me love you and for loving me so unconditionally.
When I'm with you the rest of the world ceases to exist, My head is filled with you alone & everything else a hazy mist; I know that the odds against us are vast; But I believe that our true love will last.
- Ms Ko's farewell card to Prof Tey before she left for the US in August 2010 and shortly after they had sex
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