SINGAPORE: A 21-year-old man who broke COVID-19 laws to carry out loan shark harassment was sentenced on Tuesday (Jul 14) to reformative training for a year.
Chua Jun Yong was also banned from driving for a year from his release, in relation to traffic offences he committed.
Chua pleaded guilty last month to five charges including three under the Moneylenders Act, one under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and two traffic-related offences.
Another three charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
He was involved in three cases of loan shark harassment, one of which was on Apr 9 during the "circuit breaker" period, when leaving the house for non-essential activities was prohibited.
Chua, who is completing his national service, had come to know an unlicensed moneylender in March 2020.
He took a loan of S$800 but was unable to repay the instalment sums that followed, so he took up work to harass other debtors in order to pay off the loans.
Despite not having a driving licence, Chua rented a car intending to drive to eight flats to carry out the harassment.
He went to the first flat in the wee hours of Apr 6, where he locked the gate and wrote "O$P$" on the wall, before heading to a second flat and committing similar offences.
He had no driving licence nor valid insurance policy when he drove to these flats.
His lawyer, Ng Shi Yang from the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme Fellowship, had urged the court to assess if Chua was suitable for reformative retraining.
He said Chua had experienced a slump in earnings as a food deliveryman in March, so he borrowed money from a loan shark.
The lawyer said the case has had a sobering and maturing effect on Chua, "owed in no small part to the media exposure", and said Chua was "deeply embarrassed by the national attention on his actions".
The penalties for loan shark harassment with property damage are a maximum five years' jail, a fine of between S$5,000 and S$50,000, and between three and six strokes of the cane.
For leaving his house without reasonable excuse during the circuit breaker, he could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.
For driving without the required licence, he could have been jailed for up three years, fined up to S$10,000, or both.