SINGAPORE: A full-time national serviceman attached to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was "shocked and traumatised" when he was dispatched to the scene of a training accident, so he forwarded pictures to his friends as he wanted to remind them to be careful.
This was revealed in court on Monday (Feb 24) after 21-year-old Thng Yu Xuan pleaded guilty to one charge under the Official Secrets Act.
He admitted to forwarding to five other people in a WhatsApp group chat four photos of a Singapore Armed Forces training accident between a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle and a Land Rover on Nov 3, 2018.
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Thng was part of a group dispatched to the scene to extricate the body of Corporal First Class Liu Kai, 22, who had been driving the Land Rover as part of a field training exercise and died after the collision.
Thng's lawyer Simon Tan asked for a probation suitability report, saying his client was just 20 at the time, and a criminal conviction could affect his chances of getting a scholarship at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The lawyer said Thng was "shocked and traumatised" when he got to the scene, as it was his "first time seeing such a gruesome scene".
He was concerned about his friends, and forwarded photos he received on "the spur of the moment" as he wanted to remind them to be careful to avoid training accidents.
"I was in a state of shock," Thng said in a note read out by his lawyer. "I take full responsibility for my actions and will learn from my mistakes."
The lawyer also read out a letter by Thng's parents, who apologised for their son's mistakes. They said they were financially strapped and have to support three children.
They pleaded for leniency, in light of their son's "young age and bright future ahead of him", saying they hoped he could get a scholarship to fund his university fees.
They said they feared that a criminal conviction would affect his chances despite his good grades, and he is the only child of theirs to make it to university.
The defence also referred to the case of Terence Siow, a convicted molester who was given probation despite being above 21.
However, the prosecutor asked for a fine, saying probation was not suitable in the case. She added that Terence Siow's case was not a good one to use in arguments as it is going to be appealed.
READ: Enhancements to Bionix safety among measures put in place following COI findings into NSF Liu Kai’s death
The judge did not call for a probation suitability report, but adjourned sentencing to Mar 3.
Four other men in this case have been fined for their roles in disseminating or taking the incriminating photos.
Captain Ong Lin Jie, who was the vehicle commander of the Land Rover, intends to claim trial to one count of a rash act causing death. He returns to court next month for a pre-trial conference.