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High Court throws out retired British doctor's conviction for sexual assault on Pinay DH

30 April 2022


A retired British doctor sentenced to 30  months’ jail for two cases of sexual assault on his Filipina domestic helper, has had his conviction and sentence quashed by the High Court.

Brian Drew Apthorp, 85, had appealed last July's judgment of Eastern Court Magistrate Daniel Tang on the ground that his lawyer was not allowed to cross-examine the alleged victim, after he had done so himself in the first two days of his trial.

Court of First Instance Judge Esther Toh agreed with Apthorp in a decision handed down on  April 29.

“Because of that refusal, justice had not been seen to be done, and therefore, the conviction is clearly unsafe and unsatisfactory,” Judge Toh said.


“Therefore,” she added, “the appeal against conviction is allowed, the conviction and sentences are quashed.”

While Apthorp was cleared of the two sexual assaults, he faces another set of charges involving the same domestic helper, identified as CB, and at least two other Filipinas who had also worked for him and were shown on video during his trial, to have engaged in sexual acts with him.

CFI Judge Russell Coleman, in a separate decision on April 23, ordered the police to reinvestigate CB’s complaint to look into whether she and the two others were also victims of sex trafficking and forced labor.

 “… I think the facts of the CB case do establish the ‘causal connection’ between the particular failures in the case and the lack of a bespoke criminal offence,” said Judge Coleman.

Pindutin para sa detalye

He also said such legislation should not only cover FDHs as urged by CB’s counsel, Abraham Chan, SC, but all other people who might be victims of forced labor and exploitation under section 4 of the Bill of Rights.

In her decision, Judge Toh noted that the same domestic helper, whom she identified as X, started working  for Arthorp on Sept. 5, 2018 as a replacement for another Filipina named Janice.


X complained that the retired doctor conducted an examination of her private part in his bedroom without her consent.

When she told Janice about it, the latter explained that it was a pap smear test which she herself underwent.

X also complained that after regular massages, she was forced by Arthorp to masturbate him. She presented video clips she filmed herself, showing her massaging Arthorp, who was naked. In one of the videos, he was shown asking her to hold his penis.

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During his trial, Apthorp did not give evidence or present witnesses. He cross-examined X  for two days before the court adjourned.

When the trial resumed, Apthorp brought a solicitor who applied to have X recalled for further cross-examination.

But Magistrate Tang refused, saying that since X had been cross-examined and re-examined, he was reluctant to recall her.  Besides, the lawyer did not cite authority on which to base his request.


Magistrate Tang also cited his discretionary power, to which Judge Toh agreed, to recall a witness and that his primary concern was the interests of justice.

He also asked Apthorp several times early in the case if he needed a lawyer, and that he had given him enough time and chance to cross-examine X and that the court had given him assistance when necessary.

But to Judge Toh, in sexual assault cases such as this where there are no witnesses, it is essential to test the credibility of the accuser, which Arthorp had failed to do when he defended himself.

“It is clear that this is not the type of case where merely putting the case for the defence to X would be anywhere near sufficient for the Appellant to get a fair trial.  It is clear with the many issues involved that a forensic cross-examination was required in the circumstances, particularly when it is alleged that X had demanded monetary compensation from the Appellant as well,” she said.

“It is a difficult case for a defendant to manage on his own in the best of circumstances.  But when one has a defendant with early stage of Alzheimer’s disease and with the complicated factual background in this case, it became more apparent that he required a lawyer in order to fully put his case across,” she added. 


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