Case Summaries

Logachev Vladislav v Public Prosecutor

SUPREME COURT OF SINGAPORE

19 January 2018

Case summary

Logachev Vladislav v Public Prosecutor
Magistrate’s Appeal No 9133 of 2017

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Decision of the High Court (Sundaresh Menon CJ):

Pertinent and significant points of the judgment

·   

  • The High Court set out a sentencing framework for offences punishable under s 172A(2) of the Casino Control Act (Cap 33A, 2007 Rev Ed).

  • Applying the new sentencing framework, the appellant’s aggregate sentence was reduced from 45 months’ imprisonment to 38 months’ imprisonment on appeal.

1      This was an appeal against sentence.

Background to the appeal

2      The appellant (“the Appellant”) was a Russian who was 40 years old at the material time. He pleaded guilty to one charge under s 172A(1)(c) of the Casino Control Act (Cap 33A, 2007 Rev Ed) (“the CCA”) and five charges under s 172A(1)(c) read with s 172A(3) of the CCA, all of which were punishable under s 172A(2) of the CCA. Ten charges under s 172A(1)(c) read with s 172A(3) and punishable under s 172A(2) of the CCA were taken into consideration for sentencing purposes. The Appellant was sentenced by the district judge (“the District Judge”) to an aggregate term of 45 months’ imprisonment. This appeal, Magistrate’s Appeal No 9133 of 2017, was his appeal against the sentence imposed on him by the District Judge.

3      The Appellant was charged along with two of his accomplices: Skubnik Radoslav (“Skubnik”), a Czech who was 40 years old at the material time, and Egorov Andrei (“Egorov”), a Russian who was 33 years old at the material time.

Material facts

4     The Appellant was part of a Russian syndicate operating in casinos in the United States, Europe and Macau. The syndicate targeted slot machines made by certain manufacturers. Syndicate members would form teams comprising a “Master” (who was the team leader) and “Players”. They would use smartphone devices to record the play patterns of the slot machines in question. The “Master” would then upload the recorded information to a server for analysis and decoding. The decoded data enabled the syndicate members to predict, with some degree of accuracy, the future outcomes of play on the targeted slot machines.

5      The decoded data would be sent to the “Master”, who in turn would distribute this to the “Players”. The “Players” would then return to the same slot machines, and the smartphone devices would alert them ahead of the next mass payout, thereby enabling them to win at those slot machines between 60 and 65% of the time.

6      In March 2016, the Appellant made arrangements for some syndicate members to travel to Singapore. These syndicate members proceeded to record the play patterns on specific slot machines at the casinos at Marina Bay Sands (“MBS”) and Resorts World Sentosa (“RWS”). These recordings were then analysed, and the analysed data was given to the Appellant while he was in Russia.

7      The Appellant taught Skubnik and Egorov how to use the smartphone devices. In April 2016, the Appellant instructed Skubnik to go to Singapore with the smartphone devices and use them in the casinos here. He also told Skubnik that he would be travelling to Singapore for this job. Separately, he informed Egorov of the same.

8      The trio arrived in Singapore on 5 May 2016. The Appellant was the “Master” for this job. He provided Skubnik and Egorov with the analysed data (which was stored in a computer). Together, they visited the casinos at MBS and RWS and identified the compromised slot machines. They then used the smartphone devices and gained an advantage when playing at these slot machines. In accordance with their agreement, Skubnik and Egorov would each receive about 10% of the winnings, while the Appellant would receive about 15 to 20%. The balance would go to the syndicate. The offences were committed between 5 and 8 May 2016.

9      Skubnik was the first to be dealt with. He was sentenced by another district judge to an aggregate sentence of 22 months’ imprisonment. Egorov was sentenced together with the Appellant by the District Judge. Egorov received an aggregate sentence of 30 months’ imprisonment.

10      On appeal, the Appellant submitted that an aggregate sentence of not more than 24 months’ imprisonment would be appropriate in this case. The Respondent, on the other hand, submitted that the sentence imposed by the District Judge was not manifestly excessive.

The applicable sentencing framework and the decision on appeal

11     Each party sought, at least initially, to build its case primarily by relying on and distinguishing such sentencing precedents as were available. However, the court did not think that any of the cases relied on by the parties provided any reliable reference points for determining the appropriate sentence to impose on the Appellant. In the court’s view, the present appeal was not one that could be disposed of merely by looking at the sentences imposed in the available sentencing precedents. Rather, the court considered it necessary to approach the matter from first principles. In this context, it was also necessary to consider where the present case lay along the sentencing continuum provided for under s 172A(2) of the CCA. (at [28], [32] and [33])

12      To this end, the court identified some of the relevant sentencing considerations in the context of offences punishable under s 172A(2) of the CCA as follows: (at [37])


Offence-specific factors

 

Factors going towards harm

 

Factors going towards culpability

(a)  The amount cheated

(b)  Involvement of a syndicate

(c)  Involvement of a transnational element                        

(a)  The degree of planning and premeditation

(b)  The level of sophistication

 

(c)  The duration of offending

(d)  The offender's role      

(e)  Abuse of position and breach of trust

Offender-specific factors

 

Aggravating factors

 

Mitigating factors

(a)  Offences taken into consideration for sentencing purposes

 

(b)  Relevant antecedents

 

(c)  Evident lack of remorse

(a)  A guilty plea

 

 

(b)  Voluntary restitution

 

(c)  Cooperation with the authorities

13     In its written judgment, the court proposed a sentencing framework for offences punishable under s 172A(2) of the CCA. This framework comprised five steps.

14      The first step was to have regard to the offence-specific factors and identify: (a) the level of harm caused by the offence; and (b) the level of the offender’s culpability. The harm caused by the offence might be categorised into one of three levels: slight, moderate or severe. Similarly, the offender’s culpability might be categorised into one of three levels: low, medium or high. In the court’s judgment, the level of harm caused in this case was moderate, while the level of the Appellant’s culpability was medium. (at [76], [77], [90] and [98])

15      Once the sentencing court had identified the level of harm caused by the offence and the level of the offender’s culpability, the second step was to identify the applicable indicative sentencing range. Having regard to the sentencing range stipulated in s 172A(2) of the CCA, the court considered the indicative sentencing ranges in the following matrix to be appropriate: (at [78])


16      In the present case, the applicable indicative sentencing range would be one to three years’ (or 12 to 36 months’) imprisonment. (at [99])

17      After identifying the indicative sentencing range, the third step was to identify the appropriate starting point within that range. This was to be done with regard, once again, to: (a) the level of harm caused by the offence; and (b) the level of the offender’s culpability. In the court’s judgment, the Appellant’s sentences should fall at the lower to middle level of the indicative sentencing range. Accordingly, the court identified the appropriate starting points within this range as follows: (at [79] and [100])

SN

Charge

Amount cheated

Sentence

1

DAC 919377/2016

$30,959.90

24 months’ imprisonment

2

DAC 919379/2016

$6,401.70

15 months’ imprisonment

3

DAC 919380/2016

$13,551.58

18 months’ imprisonment

4

DAC 919385/2016

$18,982.50

20 months’ imprisonment

5

DAC 919392/2016

$14,573.00

18 months’ imprisonment

6

DAC 919395/2016

$21,774.45

22 months’ imprisonment

18      Once an appropriate starting point within the indicative sentencing range had been identified, the fourth step was to make such adjustments to the starting point as might be necessary to take into account the offender-specific aggravating and mitigating factors. In the court’s judgment, no further adjustments were required at the fourth step in the present case. (at [80] and [105])

19      In cases where an offender was convicted of multiple charges, the fifth step was to consider the need to make further adjustments to take into account the totality principle. This applied especially where an offender was punished with three or more sentences of imprisonment, in which case s 307(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 2012 Rev Ed) mandated that at least two of the sentences had to run consecutively. In such situations, further adjustments to the individual sentences imposed on the offender might be required so as to ensure that the aggregate sentence was not excessive. (at [81])

20      The court did not think it was necessary or appropriate to order more than two sentences to run consecutively in the present case. In the court’s judgment, it would be appropriate to order, as the District Judge did, the sentence for DAC 919377/2016 and the sentence for DAC 919395/2016 to run consecutively. This would result in a provisional aggregate sentence of 46 months’ imprisonment. This struck the court as possibly excessively high because it was almost double the longest individual sentence imposed on the Appellant (namely, 24 months’ imprisonment for DAC 919377/2016). (at [108] and [109])

21     Having regard to the overall criminality involved, the court thought that the aggregate sentence should be reduced in this case. In the final analysis, the totality principle was a manifestation of the requirement of proportionality. In the court’s judgment, a term of 38 months’ imprisonment would serve this end. The court therefore reduced the individual sentences for DAC 919377/2016 and DAC 919395/2016 to 20 months’ and 18 months’ imprisonment respectively. (at [110])

22      In the circumstances, the court set aside the individual and aggregate sentences imposed by the District Judge, and imposed instead the following individual sentences on the Appellant: (at [111])

SN

Charge

Original sentence

Sentence on appeal

1

DAC 919377/2016

24 months’ imprisonment

20 months’ imprisonment

2

DAC 919379/2016

12 months’ imprisonment

15 months’ imprisonment

3

DAC 919380/2016

15 months’ imprisonment

18 months’ imprisonment

4

DAC 919385/2016

18 months’ imprisonment

20 months’ imprisonment

5

DAC 919392/2016

15 months’ imprisonment

18 months’ imprisonment

6

DAC 919395/2016

21 months’ imprisonment

18 months’ imprisonment

23        The court ordered the sentences for DAC 919377/2016 and DAC 919395/2016 to run consecutively, making an aggregate sentence of 38 months’ imprisonment. The Appellant’s appeal was thus allowed in this regard. The court did not disturb the District Judge’s order that the sentence was to take effect from 10 May 2016. (at [112])

This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.

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