Woman fined for hosting 18-person Sengkang gathering during circuit breaker

Woman fined for hosting 18-person Sengkang gathering during circuit breaker

Compassvale crescent
Screengrab from Google Street View of Block 295C Compassvale Crescent.

SINGAPORE: After the police discovered an illegal 18-person gathering at the flat she shared with her fiance, a woman fought bitterly with her fiance and dissolved the engagement.

Cassie Ong Shi Hong, 32, was fined S$4,000 on Wednesday (Aug 26) for one charge of permitting people not from her household to enter her flat for a social gathering.

A second charge of meeting the 16 guests in her Compassvale Crescent flat for a social gathering was taken into consideration.

The court heard that Ong, 32, was engaged to co-accused Leong Chee Mun, 37, at the time.

A friend of theirs suggested having a social gathering with dinner and drinks at their place, and the couple agreed.

A total of 16 guests from places like Tampines, Punggol, Hougang and Bukit Panjang began arriving at their flat on May 8, with the last guest arriving at 1.15am on May 9.

This took place during the "circuit breaker" period, when social gatherings were prohibited.

They came into close contact with each other while eating, drinking alcohol, playing games and watching Netflix, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Wei Liang.

A neighbour called the police at 2am saying there were "a lot of youngsters" entering and leaving the flat, saying she was "very sure" they did not live there and that this has happened "almost every night".

When a police officer arrived, he heard sounds of people from inside the flat and saw many items of footwear outside, but no one answered the door initially, with shushing noises coming from inside the flat when he knocked.

Eventually, Leong opened the door, lying to the officer that he and Ong were the only ones inside, before saying there were eight to 10 people in the flat.

The police subsequently found 16 guests in the flat.

ONG IN TOXIC RELATIONSHIP: DEFENCE

After the police left the scene, Ong had "a big argument" with Leong, and they eventually decided to call off the engagement, said defence lawyers Cory Wong, Josephus Tan and Marshall Lim of Invictus Law.

She moved out from the Sengkang flat and they "bitterly parted ways", said Mr Wong. They had been dating for almost two years in what Mr Wong labelled an "increasingly toxic" relationship.

"Leong showed that he was strongly opinionated, possessive and heavily chauvinistic," said Mr Wong, claiming that Ong had to "constantly report to Leong of her whereabouts".

READ: 10 fined for gathering in Sengkang flat during circuit breaker to eat, drink, game and watch Netflix

He asked for a S$3,000 fine instead of the S$4,000 asked for by the prosecution, saying that Ong was not close to most of the guests, who were instead Leong's immediate friends or their relatives.

"She was simply added to a group chat of Leong's own friends by Leong and she reiterates that she is not close to anyone in the group chat," said Mr Wong.

He added that the flat belonged to Leong and it was Leong who first agreed to host a party at his place, with Ong having "little choice but to go along with Leong's decision because she simply could not say 'no' to him".

Mr Wong said Ong did not know exactly how many people were coming over, because her then-fiance was the one handling invitations. However, he accepted that Ong had agreed to have the gathering and said his arguments did not qualify the guilty plea.

Ong is also a first-time offender who was cooperative with authorities and has lost a job offer because of the case, Mr Wong said.

BREACH MORE SEVERE THAN GUESTS: PROSECUTOR

The prosecutor said that Ong had committed a more severe breach than the guests, who were fined between S$2,500 and S$3,000 earlier this month.

There was a large number of people in the gathering, which lasted several hours, and everyone must do their part to abide by safe-distancing measures to effectively contain the virus, he said.

"I appreciate that the accused might have been under some emotional pressure," said the judge. "But whatever her reasons for doing so, she had agreed to host this gathering during the circuit breaker period in blatant disregard for the rest of the community."

She agreed with the prosecutor that the purpose of the gathering was "completely frivolous" and noted that many people attended the party that went on "for many hours, even past midnight".

For breaking a COVID-19 regulation, Ong could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

Leong is set to plead guilty next month.

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Source: CNA/ll(nc)

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