PUTRAJAYA: A teenager who pleaded guilty to four charges of sex-related offences was ordered by the Court of Appeal today to perform 100 hours of community service.

This was after the three-member panel comprising Justice Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Datuk M. Gunalan and Datuk Lim Chong Fong allowed the teenager’s appeal to set aside the lower court’s order that he be sent to Henry Gurney School for three years.

Lim, who delivered the court’s decision, said the appropriate order to be given to the male teenager, who is now 18 years old, is for him to perform community service for a total of 100 hours under the supervision of the social welfare department, adding that it also includes counselling, and religious and moral education.

“We acknowledge the order now meted out against the appellant may not be palatable and ideal to everyone. We prefer to place our trust on the appellant that he has learnt from his hideous episode and will not repeat it,” he said.

Lim said the order of the Magistrate’s Court sitting as a Court for Children to send the teenager to Henry Gurney School, which is under the purview of the director-general of Prisons, based on the probation report was illegal as there was an absence of the welfare officer’s explanation in the report to show that the teenager is not suitable to be rehabilitated in an approved school.

He said in meting out the sentence on a person, the court must strike a balance that serves public interest and deters the re-commissioning of the crime as well as rehabilitating the person.

Lim said the court is convinced that the teenager fell astray but he is now filled with remorse and shame of what he did, adding that the teenager’s father had admitted that his son showed a change of attitude for the better.

He said the teenager now spends more time at home focusing on his studies and less time on his mobile phone and also watches animated shows to avoid the urge to surf pornography websites.

Meanwhile, Justice Hadhariah advised the teenager to take the court’s decision as a lesson and warning for him not to repeat the offence or else he would not have a second chance.

“If you commit the offence again, the law will take its course. If the sexual offence is under the Penal Code, then the sentence under that provision will apply,“ she said.

Justice Hadhariah also said it was the responsibility of the welfare officers to decide what type of community service to give to the teenager.

She also directed the prosecution to serve the court’s order to the welfare officers for it to be enforced on the teenager and asked the prosecution to report back to the court to ensure that the order is carried out by the officers.

The boy was 15 years old at the time he committed the offences on his friends and his younger sister.

He was charged at the Sepang Magistrate’s Court, sitting as a Court for Children, on two counts of physical sexual assault and another charge of carnal intercourse against the order of nature. He was also charged at the Petaling Jaya Magistrate’s Court, sitting as a Court of Children, on one count of physical sexual assault.

On Sept 23, 2020, the Sepang Magistrate’s Court ordered the teenager to be placed in Henry Gurney School for three years while the Petaling Jaya Magistrate’s Court made the same order on Feb 4, 2021 after he pleaded guilty to all the charges.

His appeal against the order was dismissed by the High Court on Nov 5, 2021, prompting him to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz appeared for the teenager while deputy public prosecutor Ng Siew Wee appeared for the prosecution. - Bernama