SINGAPORE: Over the course of two weeks, a 55-year-old man called his ex-wife multiple times while she was sleeping at night and left voice messages for her on WhatsApp, ignoring her demands for him to stop.
On Wednesday (Aug 25), 55-year-old Lim Cher Huat was sentenced to two weeks' jail and a S$2,000 fine after pleading guilty to one count each of stalking, causing damage to property, and fighting in a public place. Five other charges were taken into consideration.
Lim and his ex-wife commenced divorce proceedings in late 2017, with the Family Justice Courts issuing a Personal Protection Order against Lim in December that year.
The divorce was finalised around March 2018, with Lim moving out of the marital home shortly after.
In December 2018, Lim’s ex-wife lodged a police report stating that he had continually harassed her by calling her multiple times while she was asleep, and sending voice messages to her through WhatsApp.
“Want to agitate me, find a man outside, you go with one, I will beat up one to show you. Beat until I go into prison,” Lim said to his ex-wife in Hokkien in one of these voice messages.
Lim threatened to curse her in some of these voice messages. He threatened to "put two ghosts" in her bedroom, saying they would "disturb" her.
By calling his ex-wife numerous times, and sending her threatening text messages, the accused had “engaged in a course of conduct which caused harassment”, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Benjamin Samynathan, adding that Lim “ought reasonably to know” that his conduct was likely to harass her.
The prosecution noted that at some point in 2019, Lim asked his ex-wife for their son’s birth certificate. This was to allow him to register for a rental flat with the Housing Board, as Lim had intended to register their son as a co-tenant of the flat.
However, Lim’s wife denied him access to the birth certificate and this enraged him, said Mr Samynathan.
On Sep 6, 2019 - while investigations into the prior offence were underway - his ex-wife called the police, saying that Lim had threatened her and wanted to beat her.
Earlier that day, Lim had confronted his ex-wife while she was having dinner at a coffee shop with her daughter and a male friend. Lim told his ex-wife to “be careful” and asked if the man was her boyfriend, and why she “did that” to him.
The dispute escalated and Lim flipped a table at the coffee shop. His ex-wife, her daughter and the friend then left the premises, so as to avoid a confrontation. Lim followed them and asked the man to leave, which he did.
He grabbed his ex-wife by her shirt to get her attention, after which she used her phone to record the confrontation.
“This agitated the accused even more, and he swiped the phone from her hand, causing it to fall on the floor and crack,” the prosecutor said.
A few days later, Lim's ex-wife, her daughter and her boyfriend took the lift down from her flat as they were heading out for a walk, shortly before 11pm.
The accused was on the ground floor waiting for the lift, as he wanted to go to his ex-wife’s house to retrieve his bank passbook.
When the lift reached the ground floor, the accused saw the boyfriend and entered the lift to confront him after his ex-wife and daughter left the lift.
Lim starting throwing punches at the man’s face while in the lift, with the scuffle moving from the lift to the lift lobby.
The incident was captured by the police cameras, the prosecution noted. Lim sustained bruises on his left arm while the other man had abrasions on his nose and left middle finger.
Lim’s lawyer, N K Anitha of Island Law, contended that her client’s actions were due to the “unreasonable” and “uncooperative behaviour” of his ex-wife.
She noted Lim had given up the marital home to his ex-wife and was expected to leave on the day the final judgement was delivered, without having anywhere to stay.
Ms Anitha said her client’s acts were done out of frustration, noting that Lim did not contact his former spouse at all after resolving his housing situation.
The prosecution responded by saying that Lim had shown a lack of remorse for his actions and that a familial dispute was not a free pass for his actions.