SINGAPORE: A Singaporean teen on Wednesday (Jun 2) admitted to harassing English Premier League footballer Neal Maupay by threatening to kill the Brighton & Hove Albion forward and his family in online messages sent last year.
Derek Ng De Ren, 19, was in Singapore when he sent the threats to Maupay via Instagram direct message, according to court documents.
The court heard that Ng was a junior college student and watched the game between Arsenal and Brighton on television around 10pm on Jun 20 last year, TODAY reported.
The messages, sent on four occasions, came after Ng was upset that Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno suffered a serious knee injury following a tackle by French national Maupay during the game and was stretchered off the pitch. Arsenal went on to lose 2-1.
Ng pleaded guilty to two charges under the Protection from Harassment Act, while two other charges will be taken into consideration during sentencing on Jul 7, according to TODAY.
READ: Teen in Singapore charged over online death threats sent to Premier League footballer Neal Maupay
On the night of Jun 24, four days after the match, Ng sent a message to Maupay that read: "You think you will get away for injuring Leno? No way in hell bruv ...
"But don't worry you will be safe you won't be hurt. It's more fun watching you feel pain when your loved ones go through suffering."
The next day, Ng sent another message containing an expletive.
In the wee hours of Jun 26, he also told Maupay: "Your family will be attacked later in the day, just watch."
He followed this with another message on Jul 1: "You think by reporting my account you're safe? I will kill you and your family."
Ng used "threatening words with the intent to cause distress" to Maupay in these messages, said his charge sheets.
POSSIBLE PROBATION, REFORMATIVE TRAINING
During the proceedings on Wednesday, District Judge May Mesenas called for reports to assess if Ng is suitable for probation or reformative training, according to TODAY.
In seeking reports for probation and reformative training, Deputy Public Prosecutor Jeremy Bin was quoted by TODAY as saying that the case was “part of a real and rising trend of offending behaviour, leveraging on technology to cause far-reaching psychological harm to unsuspecting victims without fear of repercussions”.
Ng’s threats were not mild and he had been able to cause material harm to Maupay who was about 10,000km away, the prosecutor added.
Ng’s lawyer Mark Yeo argued that only a probation report was necessary at this point.
“We recognise that the offences committed by the accused are not trivial. Yet they are not so serious as to necessitate the calling of a reformative training report,” he reportedly said.
The judge disagreed and ordered that Ng be remanded for seven days, so that the reformative training report can be prepared.
Probation is usually offered to first-time offenders between the ages of 16 and 21, and does not lead to a recorded criminal conviction. Reformative training, a regimented rehabilitation programme for young offenders who commit relatively serious crimes, is a more severe punishment.
Adult offenders convicted of using threatening words could face a jail term of up to six months or a fine of up to S$5,000, or both.
"STRONG MESSAGE OF DETERRENCE": PREMIER LEAGUE CHIEF
Responding to the outcome on Wednesday, the Premier League said it was alerted to the messages through its online abuse reporting system.
In a press release, the league said its legal team undertook "a detailed investigation to successfully identify and locate the offender" and worked with Maupay, Brighton and Singapore authorities to pursue legal action.
READ: Premier League traces online abuse of Brighton’s Neal Maupay to Singapore; police report filed
The league's Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “This outcome recognises the severity of the offence and we hope it will send a strong message of deterrence by demonstrating there are serious real-life consequences for those who engage in online abuse.”
Maupay said "the vile and toxic abuse" which he received "is a daily occurrence for many professional athletes and public figures".
Maupay added: "I hope this goes someway to showing those online trolls that it is totally unacceptable and that the authorities are prepared to take the necessary action."