How much does a mental illness help your case in court? | Singapore Informer

by Wan Ting Koh AN ACCOUNTING manager at luxury watch and jewellery firm Chopard was convicted earlier this month (Dec 1) for stealing money from her firm and covering it up. Her crimes are falsification of accounts, using the benefits of criminal conduct and criminal breach of trust. Chew Siew Lang, 53, had siphoned $11.2 million from the company over six-and-a-half years, but she is hoping to get a lighter sentence by pleading psychiatric illness: impulse control disorder. It is a disorder characterised by impulsivity and a failure to resist a temptation, urge or an impulse that may harm oneself or others. Chew isn’t the first to cite this mental disorder in court. Earlier this year, a Japanese air stewardess with the same psychiatric disorder was fined $7,000 for stealing from shops in Paragon earlier this year in a 30-minute shoplifting spree. Satoko Otaka, 27, stole $2,346.14 worth of items, including postcards and vegetable stock. Her defence: major depressive disorder in addition to kleptomania or a recurrent urge to steal. For mental illness to be considered in court, said Mr Colin Liew, senior associate at TSMP Law Corporation, there usually has to be a causal link between the mental illness and the commission of offence to show the relevance of the mental illness to the act. He said that a mentally ill person might be “unaware of the nature or the wrongness of what he is doing”. Tito Isaac & Co LLP senior associate Jonathan Wong said an offender’s mental disorder is always a relevant factor when considering his sentencing and it can often be a “mitigating factor that is…

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