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17-year-old apologises to judge for fishing illegally at Bukit Batok Town Park without mask, safe distancing

SINGAPORE — A 17-year-old youth apologised in court on Thursday (Dec 9) after pleading guilty to fishing illegally at Bukit Batok Town Park this year and flouting Covid-19 safe-distancing rules.

17-year-old apologises to judge for fishing illegally at Bukit Batok Town Park without mask, safe distancing

A 17-year-old confessed in court to failing to keep a distance of at least 1m from a group of seven people and fishing at a public park without approval.

SINGAPORE — A 17-year-old youth apologised in court on Thursday (Dec 9) after pleading guilty to fishing illegally at Bukit Batok Town Park this year and flouting Covid-19 safe-distancing rules.

His parents previously paid a S$300 composition fine on his behalf for an earlier gathering at the same spot, but he returned with friends and ended up being prosecuted.

The teenager cannot be named because Singapore's laws ban the publication of the identities of young offenders below 18.

He confessed to failing to keep a distance of at least 1m from a group of seven people and fishing at a public park without approval.

The court will consider three other similar charges, including not wearing a mask over his nose and mouth, during sentencing on Jan 21 next year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Huo Jiongrui told the court that the teenager paid the fine on May 31 for breaching Covid-19 laws by gathering at Bukit Batok Town Park, colloquially known as Little Guilin.

Court documents showed, however, that he returned on the morning of June 2 with five others to fish. People could gather only in pairs at the time, to limit Covid-19's spread. 

He went again two weeks later when gathering sizes were eased to allow five people in a group. Around 3am on June 16, police officers observed him with four others. Next to them was a group of seven people.

Members from both groups intermingled, with none of them wearing masks.

It is unclear if action had been taken against the other people.

On Thursday, District Judge May Mesenas called for a report to assess if the teenager is suitable for probation, which is usually offered to first-time offenders between 16 and 21 years old. 

Probation allows young offenders to continue with their education or employment while serving their sentences.

After the teenager apologised for his crimes, the judge asked if his parents knew that he was going out late at night and told him that he did not seem to be taking Covid-19 rules seriously.

When he said that his parents were aware and apologised again, District Judge Mesenas replied: “'Sorry' is easy to say. What are you prepared to do? Do you know what is probation? There is a strict time curfew to be enforced by your parents. If you're not interested, there are other options.

“(If) you want to have fun with your friends and throw caution to the wind, you’re putting everyone at risk — not just yourself but others.” 

He then told her that he withdrew from the Institute of Technical Education recently and wants to do National Service.

He added later that his parents want him to go back to school. She advised him to discuss the matter with them over the next few weeks.

Adult offenders who breach Covid-19 laws can receive a jail term of up to six months or a fine of up to S$10,000, or both. Those who fish illegally can be fined up to S$5,000.

Related topics

court crime fishing safe distancing Covid-19

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