Benjamin Glynn, caught for not wearing a mask, given 6 weeks' jail after brief one-day trial
SINGAPORE: After a brief one-day trial, British national Benjamin Glynn was on Wednesday evening (Aug 18) convicted of all charges against him and sentenced to six weeks' jail.
Glynn, who claimed to be a "sovereign, living man" against whom the law had "no effect", was found guilty of four charges of failing to wear a mask, public nuisance and using threatening words towards a public servant.
District Judge Eddy Tham said Glynn was "completely misguided" in his beliefs that he was not subject to Singapore's mask-wearing laws and was instead under "some higher law".
He said the laws were set out by the Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and that Glynn knew very well the regulations were in force.
"It's not open to him to say he is above the law," said Judge Tham, adding that allowing an individual to state so regardless of his beliefs would "completely undermine" the enactment of such laws.
Glynn continued to say there was "no jurisdiction" over him while the prosecutor pushed for seven weeks' jail, citing his "defiance" and how he openly flouted the law by removing his mask after just being charged for a similar offence.
The prosecutor urged the court to send a clear message that Glynn's actions were unacceptable, and said the country's efforts to fight the pandemic would be "squandered" if others similarly flouted the laws with such "impunity".
Glynn was given a chance to speak before he was sentenced and said: "I'm a man of God, no man puts any fear into me ... Hopefully I will be in the book of life, and it's scary how there's total disregard for common law in Singapore, because you are not my master and I am not your slave."
Glynn has been in remand since Jul 19.
WHAT HAPPENED AT TRIAL
The 40-year-old first made the news in May when he was seen in a viral video not wearing a mask on a train. The second such offence was at the State Courts in July where he did not wear a mask properly outside and in the building.
Two police officers testified on Wednesday that when they went to Glynn's condominium on May 9 to interview him over the train incident, he initially cooperated. But he later turned aggressive when they asked to go to his apartment to retrieve evidence and tried to arrest him.
According to the officers, Glynn adopted a boxing stance, said he could "easily" take them both on and said: "I will f***ing drop anyone who tries to cuff me."
During his defence on Wednesday, Glynn broke down when he spoke about how he had been "psychologically tortured" for the past three months.
"Please drop these unlawful charges against me, return my stolen passport and allow me to return to England and to be united with my two kids," he said before crying.
Glynn said he did not deny being the person in the viral video - when he was caught on the train saying he would "never" wear a mask. He also did not deny being outside and in court without wearing a mask properly.
However, he denied adopting a boxing stance or threatening the police officers at his condominium when he heard there was no bodyworn camera footage available of the incident.
A "LIVING MAN"
His entire defence centred around his claim that he was a "living man" and above Singapore's laws as he had not entered into any "contract" stating he would agree to wear a mask.
"This is commerce, this is the lowest form of law there is. I answer to God. I will cause no damage to any living man or property and I'm standing up for my God-given unalienable right to not wear a mask," he said.
"If you look at what's happening in England, America, all over Europe, mask regulations have been dropped because someone has stood up and said it's not right. You cannot be imprisoned and fined because ... of a mask ... I do not wish to breathe my own recycled carbon dioxide, I like to breathe oxygen."
Glynn made several remarks loudly after the judge left the court to deliberate on his verdict. First, Glynn exclaimed "The captain has abandoned the ship". He later told a guard: "In England, if the judge leaves, I'm free to go, because he's abandoned the ship. Not in Singapore. Singapore has its own rules, as I've found out."
While waiting for the judge to reappear and give his verdict, Glynn also called out to the prosecutor: "Hey Mr Koh, you didn't ask me how IMH was. Pretty tough. No books, just me and myself. Thank you for that."
Glynn's hearings have been peppered by drama on the sidelines - first, a man claiming to be his lawyer was initially turned away at his charging for inappropriate attire.
The same man later said he did not have a licence to practise but was an "ambassador at large and advocate of Kingdom Filipina Hacienda".
On Wednesday, a woman was taken out of the court after her mask came undone and she refused to cooperate with security guards.
She shouted that it was a "kangaroo court" and said she did not respect the judge. CNA has contacted the police on whether any action will be taken against her.