SINGAPORE: Thinking that a woman was the driver of a car that ran over a dog, a man posted abusive messages on Facebook against the woman.
However, she was only the owner of the vehicle and not the person driving the car at the time of the incident.
For his abusive communication on Facebook, 27-year-old freelance dog trainer and animal welfare group co-founder Mark Lin Youcheng was fined S$1,400 on Tuesday (Jan 7).
Another charge of making threatening comments by writing "Please manage your atrocious and cruel employee or the public will" on the Facebook page of Huttons Asia was taken into consideration.
In October 2016, a post went viral on Facebook stating that a dog from a shelter had been run over by a driver at Pasir Ris Farmway.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as a Chinese woman, driving a black Honda, and the vehicle number was included in the post.
According to the post, the driver kept driving even though she had hit the dog named Sayang.
When volunteers chased the car, she purportedly stopped and grew upset when confronted, saying "F*** you. It is only a dog" before driving off.
The post went viral and the information was posted on other online platforms including Mothership and STOMP, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelvin Chong.
After seeing the post, Lin commented on another person's Facebook post on Oct 24, 2016, stating: "IDENTITY FOUND".
He added a screenshot he had been forwarded from someone else, containing the NRIC number, name, address, vehicle number and vehicle model of the victim, Ms Soon Kim Choo.
Lin posted a follow-up comment later saying: "Give her hell."
After Ms Soon's personal information was posted online, she received calls and WhatsApp messages from people assuming she was the driver of the car.
She filed a police report on Oct 25, 2016, saying Lin had posted untrue statements about her on Facebook.
Ms Soon was not behind the wheel that day. Instead, a 52-year-old woman was driving the car. Ms Soon lodged a separate police report.
Lin pleaded guilty to his actions on Tuesday.
His lawyer Joel Ng asked for a fine of S$500 or a bond to be imposed on his client, saying the offences had been "borne out of love for animals".
Lin, who paid Ms Soon S$12,500 out of court to settle a civil defamation claim, also recanted his comments and apologised in February last year.
In a Facebook post, Lin wrote: "I should not have made those statements without accurately verifying if she was at the wheel at the time. I will leave the investigation of the incident to the regulatory authorities. I apologise for my actions and for the hurt and loss suffered by Ms Soon Kim Choo."
The prosecutor asked for a fine of S$2,000, pointing out that while the compensation made could be taken as a sign of remorse, it did not detract from his position.
Court documents did not indicate if any action was taken against the actual driver.
For making abusive communication to cause harassment, Lin could have been fined up to S$5,000.