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Benjamin Glynn defends himself in trial for failing to wear a mask, supporter causes scene in court

Benjamin Glynn defends himself in trial for failing to wear a mask, supporter causes scene in court

Benjamin Glynn leaving the State Courts on Jul 2, 2021. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: The trial for a man accused of not wearing his mask on a train and outside the State Courts began proper on Wednesday (Aug 18) after he was assessed to be free of any mental disorder.

Briton Benjamin Glynn's trial was marked with increased security guard presence after his previous hearing was attended by supporters who clapped and laughed in court.

The 40-year-old man is contesting four charges of failing to wear a mask without reasonable excuse, public nuisance and using threatening words towards a public servant.

On Wednesday, Glynn arrived with his hands in cuffs and called out to the prosecutor: "Morning, Mr Koh, hope you had a nice two weeks with your family. Any messages from my family? Maybe my dead grandma has contacted you from beyond the grave."

He had been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health to assess his psychiatric state

The trial opened with an uncharacteristic reminder by the court clerk to all present in the public gallery that they were not to cause any interruption during proceedings and that action may be taken against anyone who fails to comply with the rules.

When the judge asked Glynn if he was pleading guilty or not guilty, Glynn reiterated that he did not understand why he was in a criminal court for a potential "commerce breach".

"There's been no victim. There's been no harm to any living man or woman. Therefore it's a farce that I am in a criminal court for a maritime breach ... that has no legal jurisdiction over me. My position hasn't changed. We have no contract whereby I comply to wearing a mask," he said.

He added he might consider addressing the charges if he is offered compensation for "the crimes against me", "otherwise I have no contract".

The judge responded saying they could proceed with a trial as Glynn was not pleading guilty.

DISTURBANCE BY A WOMAN

It was barely minutes into the trial when a woman who had earlier waved to Glynn suddenly reacted to a security guard.

He had asked her to wear her mask properly when it slipped down her nose and she immediately responded with an angry expression with her entire mask off her face.

District Judge Eddy Tham proceeded to ask her to step outside the court if she was not wearing a mask.

"This is ridiculous kangaroo court," replied the woman, who reacted as guards approached her. "You don't touch me. I have no contract with you!"

She continued to ramble that this was "not about a mask" but "about control". A man who had tried to admit himself as Glynn's lawyer but had no practising licence told the guard not to "provoke" her.

"That is enough interruption, please bring her out of the courtroom now," Judge Tham said.

Several guards surrounded her but did not touch her. The woman replied: "You don't tell me what to do, I'm a living, breathing woman. Shut up. I do not respect the judge."

The judge stood down proceedings while the woman was taken out of the court.

Glynn continued taunting the prosecutor while the judge was away, saying: "Back to law school for you, Mr Koh."

The trial resumed with Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh calling investigation officer Senior Staff Sergeant Amirudin Nordin as his first witness. Mr Koh played several clips in court of Glynn not wearing a mask. 

He was shown without a mask in a train on May 7, 2021, telling a commuter he would "never" wear a mask. 

PROSECUTOR PLAYS CLIPS OF GLYNN NOT WEARING MASK PROPERLY

Mr Koh also played clips retrieved from closed-circuit television cameras in the State Courts. They showed Glynn alighting from a taxi at the drop-off point outside the courts without a mask on his face.

He was again shown maskless as he queued to get in and later put a mask on when two guards asked him to do so.

Other clips showed him with his mask pulled down to his chin and not covering his nose and mouth at the information counter outside the charge court.

Another clip depicted him entering a lift in the court with a man he claimed to be his lawyer. Glynn's mask was pulled down to his chin, while his "lawyer" pulled his own mask down before speaking to Glynn.

One clip showed Glynn outside the State Courts building after he left. He was not wearing a mask and media photographers were seen taking pictures of him.

GLYNN CROSS-EXAMINES INVESTIGATION OFFICER

Glynn, who is unrepresented, opened his cross-examination of the investigation officer by saying: "Some great investigation work there ... Sherlock Holmes will be proud of you."

The judge asked him not to preface his questions with "unnecessary comments". 

Glynn then asked the officer if it was the law to cover his face with a mask, and if he had broken the law.

The officer replied that it was the current law and cited the relevant regulation.

Glynn then asked the officer if he recognised that he was "a living man", because the charges are "regulations (that) do not apply to the living man".

Judge Tham interjected: "The court can take notice that you are a living person. It is obvious to everyone in this courtroom that you are a living person."

The trial is set to continue for the rest of the day.

If convicted of failing to wear a mask, Glynn can be jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both. 

For the offence of public nuisance, he could be jailed up to three months, fined up to S$2,000, or both.

If guilty of using threatening words towards a public servant in relation to the execution of their duty, he could be jailed up to a year, fined a maximum of S$5,000, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(ta)

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