Man given stern warning for trespassing into church and defacing Mother Mary statue

Man given stern warning for trespassing into church and defacing Mother Mary statue

statue mary nativity church
The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Hougang. (Photo: Ili Nadhirah Mansor/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: A man who trespassed into a church and defaced a statue of Mother Mary has been given a stern warning, with the prosecution withdrawing all charges against him.

Race Koh Jun Xian, 38, was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal on Monday (Jan 11) for a charge of criminal trespass and another of defiling a place of worship with intent to insult a religion.

He had climbed over the fence and entered the courtyard of Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary along Upper Serangoon Road on Nov 2, Nov 5 and Nov 12 last year.

On the last occasion, he used Blu Tack, a removable adhesive, to stick marbles to the eyes of a statue of Mother Mary.

In a statement on Tuesday, the police said it administered a stern warning to Koh for the two offences, after consulting with the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC).

Both charges were withdrawn in court on Monday, and Koh was also warned for committing criminal trespass for the other two occasions.

Koh had been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric assessment after his charging on Nov 20 last year and found to have an extensive history of substance use disorder.

However, he was assessed to be of sound mind at the time of the third offence.

"The man claimed that he had wanted to pray to the statue and intended to beautify it out of gratitude," said the police. 

"Police investigations revealed the man did not think that he would be defiling the statue. No permanent damage was done to the statue by the man's act," they added in their statement. 

"A stern warning was thus given, taking into consideration the overall context of the offences, and taking into account the period of remand served."

The penalties for criminal trespass are a jail term of up to three months, a fine of up to S$1,500, or both. The punishment for defiling a place of worship with intent to insult a religion is a maximum five years' jail, a fine, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)

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