SINGAPORE: A teenager accused of drinking from juice bottles before returning them to a supermarket shelf wants to claim trial to the charge, his newly hired lawyer told the court on Thursday (Jun 4).
However, defence counsel Dhillon Surinder Singh said he had only just taken on the case and spoken to the prosecution, so he will take further instructions.
"My client's preliminary instructions are that he's disputing the charge and claiming trial to the charge," said Mr Singh.
"However, the prosecutor has appraised me of certain facts which I shall be liaising with him on after this mention. In the meantime, can we have a pre-trial conference date?"
District Judge Seah Chi-Ling fixed a pre-trial conference for the case on Jun 15.
The accused, 17-year-old Nigel Pang Yew Ming, faces one charge of public nuisance for taking two bottles of fruit juice from a shelf at NTUC FairPrice at 2 Bukit Batok West Avenue 7 on Feb 6.
He allegedly drank from them before returning them to the shelf, and his friend, 17-year-old Quek Xuan Zhi, filmed the incident and posted it on Instagram with the caption: "How to spread Wuhan virus".
The police said that the video "caused public alarm and concern" and said they will "not tolerate any actions that stoke undue public alarm, especially during this period of heightened sensitivity".
READ: Teen's guilty plea rejected after he says he did not consent to 'how to spread Wuhan virus' caption
Pang initially intended to plead guilty, but had his plea rejected last month after he maintained that he did not know about nor consent to the caption "how to spread Wuhan virus".
He said Quek usually got his approval for captions before posting them, but did not on this occasion.
"I really did not know that the caption 'how to spread Wuhan' was being added until it went viral, then I realised it was being added," he said on May 22.
The penalty for public nuisance is a maximum jail term of three months, a fine of up to S$2,000 or both.
The prosecution had previously said that he intended to ask for a probation suitability report, but reserved his final decision.
Pang's friend Quek will return to court for a further mention of his case on Jun 19.