SINGAPORE: A young man who was urged by a judge to quickly decide whether he wanted to plead guilty or not before he turned 21 admitted to various offences in court on Tuesday (Jun 2), a day shy of his birthday.
Chua Jun Yong, 20, pleaded guilty to five charges including three under the Moneylenders Act, one under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and two traffic-related offences.
Another three charges will be taken into consideration for sentencing.
He was involved in three cases of loan shark harassment, including one on Apr 9 during the “circuit breaker” period when leaving the house for non-essential activities was not allowed.
This incident drew the COVID-19 charge, for leaving his Bedok flat without reasonable excuse to harass a man in Holland Close.
The court heard that Chua is completing his National Service, and got to know an unlicensed moneylender known as Jasper in March 2020.
He took a loan of S$800 from Jasper, but was unable to repay the instalment sums that followed. Jasper then offered him work to harass other debtors on his behalf, with a sum of S$150 deducted from his outstanding loan for each apartment unit he harassed.
Each time Chua did this, he was to take a photo of the loan shark harassment and send it to Jasper.
He agreed to carry out the harassment at eight units to settle his outstanding loan and interest of S$1,200.
He then rented a car to drive to the locations, even though he did not have the required driving licence.
Chua drove to the first flat at 1am on Apr 6, where he used a bicycle lock on the gate and wrote “O$P$” along with the debtor’s details on the wall at the lift landing.
After this, he drove to the home of a 52-year-old woman whose stepson owed money to loan sharks.
He similarly locked the gate with a bicycle lock, before writing on the wall with an indelible marker and taking a photo of the scene for Jasper before leaving.
He did not have a valid Class 3 driving licence while behind the wheel, and there was no valid insurance policy either, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Kee.
Three days later, Chua left his flat after Jasper instructed him to harass another apartment unit. He drove the rented car to the location and locked the unit with a bicycle lock before scribbling a demand for repayment on the wall.
The prosecution asked for a reformative training suitability report. The court heard that Chua had previously been given reformative training.
A probation suitability report was not called for.
When Chua was charged, the judge had urged him to expedite his case before he turned 21 on Jun 3.
Offenders under 21 are considered young offenders and can be given sentences such as probation or reformative training.
Chua will return to court for sentencing on Jun 9.
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.
On top of this, 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.
Published at Tue, 02 Jun 2020 04:16:33 +0000