SINGAPORE: A 56-year-old man, Lai Yew Thiam, was sentenced to four weeks’ jail on Thursday (Dec 7) for breaking into the offices of a law firm with his longtime friend Ravi Madasamy, better known as M Ravi.
The pair broke into Eugene Thuraisingam LLP thrice in 10 days, following Ravi’s firing on Jun 8, 2017.
The firm had hired him as Head of Knowledge Management and Strategic Alliance, even though he was unable to practice after being barred from applying for a practicing certificate for two years in October last year.
Ravi and Lai broke into the office at around 12.55pm on Jun 17. Ravi posted videos of the break-in on Facebook. The firm’s security officer, Rueben, and other employees “made it clear” that Ravi and Lai were not welcome, prosecutors said. They also called the police.
The firm changed its lock after the break-in.
On Jun 23, Rueben reported a second break-in. He called the police, saying: “It’s M Ravi.”
Ravi and Lai had intended to break into the office the day before, when they realised the lock had been changed.
They returned next day with a screwdriver, which Lai used to unscrew the newly installed metal shutter, bypassing the new lock.
Ravi similarly posted a video of the break-in on Facebook. The men’s intent was to “annoy Rueben”, prosecutors said.
After this incident, the firm hired a contractor to secure the shutter by screwing it into the ground. When the men returned on Jun 26, they found the shutter fastened firmly to the ground with eight screws.
They returned next day with the screwdriver and broke into the office. Again, Ravi posted a video of the break-in on Facebook.
Lai’s intention was to help his friend of 15 years, his lawyer Satwant Singh said. “When (Lai) saw Ravi having trouble with his psychiatric condition, he did his best to offer any help he could,” the lawyer said.
When Ravi asked Lai to break into the firm’s office, Lai obliged. “Mr Lai felt (pity) for Ravi … seeing a good lawyer like (him) in such a state of distress,” Mr Singh said.
He also thought that “it would be alright to enter the office since the premises would probably be available again to Ravi at a later stage”.
Mr Singh also noted the offences were committed while Ravi was “suffering from a relapse of bipolar disorder, and he was clearly in a state of frenzy”.
Lai pleaded guilty on Thursday to two of charges of housebreaking.
A third count was taken into consideration for sentencing.
For housebreaking, Lai could have been jailed for up to two years per charge and fined.
Ravi pleaded guilty to the charges in November. He will be sentenced in January.