SINGAPORE: A man who had admitted in October to raping a drunk teenager at the foot of a block in Pasir Ris after a sex-themed Truth or Dare game now wants to retract his plea of guilt.
He also has not paid his lawyers Marcus Tai and Roy Sze, who told the high court on Monday (Dec 2) that they will be discharging themselves from the case.
The 21-year-old accused man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the 15-year-old girl, had pleaded guilty on Oct 31 to raping the girl.
After doing so in the early hours of Oct 17, 2017, he helped his friend and co-accused, who failed in his attempt.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man told the court that the case was meant for sentencing on Monday, but the defence said the accused had told them on Monday morning that he intends to retract his plea of guilt.
"His further instructions are that he intends to appoint counsel for this purpose and to enter a defence subsequently," said Mr Tai. "Unfortunately, I have to inform this court that we have not been paid for this matter."
The accused had written a letter to the judge, but the prosecution said what he wrote in it did not amount to a defence.
"Technically speaking, he has not satisfied the legal threshold to convince your honour to retract the plea," said the prosecutor.
He said while the man seeks a new set of defence lawyers, the prosecution would allow the plea of guilt to stand, as there are currently "no valid grounds to retract" it.
He said all the safeguards had been observed when he had pleaded guilty - with the meaning of his plea explained to him, defence counsel representing him and with the accused repeatedly asked if he understood his plea.
At the time, the accused had asked for an adjournment of sentencing only to attend to his grandmother, who was in poor health, said the prosecutor.
Justice Audrey Lim granted the defence their request to discharge themselves, and also gave the accused one month to engage new lawyers.
The penalty for rape is a maximum 20 years' jail, a fine, or caning. The case of the second co-accused, who had wanted to rape the victim as well, is pending.