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Man charged with breaking COVID-19 laws to carry out loan shark harassment

Man charged with breaking COVID-19 laws to carry out loan shark harassment

File photo of the State Courts in Singapore (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: During the "circuit breaker" period, when all were ordered to stay home, a young man allegedly left his house and drove from Bedok to Holland Close to carry out loan shark harassment offences.

Chua Jun Yong, 20, was charged on Tuesday (May 26) with one count of contravening regulation 4(2) of the COVID-19 regulations.

He is accused of leaving his Bedok Reservoir Road flat between 12am and 6am on Apr 9 to go to Block 1, Holland Close, where he locked the gate of a flat with a bicycle lock.

Charge sheets state that he used a black indelible marker to write "O$P$", along with the name and number of a man, on the wall of the lift landing.

This brings his number of charges to eight, for a total of three cases of loan shark harassment on Apr 6 and Apr 9. He was previously charged over the same incident on Apr 9, with driving a car along Holland Close when there was no vehicle insurance.

The other two incidents occurred on the same day on Apr 6. That morning, he allegedly went to a flat at Tampines Street 86 and used a bicycle lock to lock the gate, before heading to another flat in Hougang Avenue 4 at about 3am to do the same. 

At both flats, he also wrote "O$P$" along with the names and numbers of two different people on the corridor walls, court documents state.

According to charge sheets, he did not have the required driving licence when he drove to Tampines to carry out the loan shark harassment.

The judge urged him to decide quickly whether he wants to plead guilty, as he turns 21 next week. Offenders under 21 are considered young offenders and can be given sentences such as probation or reformative training.

The penalties for loan shark harassment with property damage are a maximum five years' jail, a fine of between S$5,000 and S$50,000, and between three and six strokes of the cane.

Chua said he was aware of the implications of turning 21, but said he was still waiting for his legal aid. 

"I suggest you speak to CLAS (Criminal Legal Aid Scheme) to get your lawyer to expedite it, I'll fix it in community court for you (to plead guilty) before you turn 21, I think that's a very important factor for you," said District Judge Lorraine Ho.

The police prosecutor highlighted that Chua is liable for caning.

To this, Chua asked what would happen if his lawyer was not ready by Jun 2, the day before his 21st birthday.

"Then, you have to make a call whether you want to plead guilty first, let the community court judge (decide) if he wants to call for a report in view of your age, and see if the lawyer can be ready after the reports are out," said the judge. "But as I said if you don't take a certain course before you turn 21, that's my only concern for you."

She set a date for Chua to plead guilty on Jun 2.

On top of the penalties for loan shark harassment, Chua faces up to six months' jail, a fine of up to S$10,000, or both for leaving his house without reasonable excuse during the circuit breaker.

For driving without the required licence, he can be jailed for up three years, fined up to S$10,000, or both. He can also be banned from driving.

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Source: CNA/ll(cy)

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