jail-for-man-who-defied-covid-19-order-and-left-home-to-have-supper-with-friend
Spread the love

SINGAPORE: A man visited his grandmother despite being ordered to stay home while recovering from symptoms resembling COVID-19.

While he was being investigated for this, he flouted another order by heading out to have dessert and frog porridge with a friend.

With his case still before the courts and while he was under a reformative training scheme, Verner Chua Jun Jie cut his electronic monitoring tag and absconded. 

Chua, now 22, was sentenced to jail for a month and a week on Tuesday (Sep 13).

He pleaded guilty to a charge each of exposing others to the risk of infection and mischief by cutting the electronic monitoring system tag. Two other charges were considered in sentencing.

The court heard that Chua was sentenced to reformative training for prior offences in April 2019. 

In August 2020, he was diagnosed with an acute respiratory infection and ordered to stay home for five days. On the last day of his stay-home period, Chua left his home and took a private-hire vehicle to visit his grandmother.

He then went to a coffee shop to buy lunch before going home, taking a total of three private-hire vehicle trips that day.

Chua was investigated for this offence and initially offered a notice of composition or an out-of-court fine.

HE REPEATED THE SAME OFFENCE

However, he repeated the offence in December 2020. On Dec 6, 2020, he visited a clinic in Bukit Gombak for a cough and sore throat. He was diagnosed with an acute upper respiratory infection and given a COVID-19 swab test.

He was told that he had to stay home for three days or until he received a negative swab test result. Despite acknowledging this, Chua did not head home that day.

He took a taxi to Jalan Sultan later that evening, where he met a friend to borrow money, intending to use the cash to pay the composition fine for the August 2020 offence.

After this, he boarded another taxi with his friend and went for dessert along Balestier Road. They stayed in that area until about 2.40am, before taking another taxi to Geylang for porridge.

Chua went home only at about 4am. He received a negative swab test result only on Dec 8, 2020.

In August 2021, Chua was placed on a release on supervision scheme for his reformative training. Under the scheme, he was required to wear an electronic monitoring tag.

On Sep 27, 2021, Chua was to report to Selarang Halfway House but decided not to do so and proceeded to cut his electronic monitoring tag.

A warrant of arrest was issued for him and he was subsequently remanded.

BLATANT DISREGARD FOR THE LAW: PROSECUTOR

The prosecutor asked for one month and one weeks’ jail for Chua, noting that he had been out in public and in breach of medical orders for more than eight hours on the second occasion.

He went to multiple locations, most of them food establishments, which are “more dangerous” as people would have been eating and talking with their masks removed.

Crucially, said the prosecutor, Chua was already under investigation for a separate case when he committed this second offence. His reason was also “rather frivolous”, said the prosecutor, as he wanted to go out and eat with a friend.

Chua’s pattern of offending “demonstrates a blatant disregard for the law”, added the prosecutor.

For exposing others to the risk of infection, he could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

For mischief, he could have been jailed for up to a year, fined, or both.