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Four fined, jailed for breaching stay-home notices or quarantine orders

SINGAPORE — Four people were sentenced to jail terms or fines on Wednesday (May 20) for breaching their stay-home notices or quarantine orders, including a foreign worker who ventured out to buy a shaver as he was going to return to work the next day.

Four fined, jailed for breaching stay-home notices or quarantine orders

(From left) Teo Say Leong, Siti Wan Su’aidah Samsuri, Foo Ching Guan and Vardireddy Nageswara Reddy outside the State Courts on May 20 and April 17, 2020. Photos: Ili Nadhirah Mansor, Raj Nadarajan

SINGAPORE — Four people were sentenced to jail terms or fines on Wednesday (May 20) for breaching their stay-home notices or quarantine orders, including a foreign worker who ventured out to buy a shaver as he was going to return to work the next day.

Stay-home notices are given to those returning from overseas to prevent the further spread of imported Covid-19 cases, while quarantine orders are served on those suspected to have come in contact with a Covid-19 case.

The four dealt with in court on Wednesday were:

Vardireddy Nageswara Reddy, 35

The Indian national was sentenced to a S$3,500 fine after pleading guilty to one charge under the Infectious Diseases Act.

The court heard that he came into close contact with a colleague, whom he knew as Moses, who then tested positive for Covid-19.

Vardireddy was served with two orders, and was told to stay home in isolation from Feb 16 to 25.

However, the day before his order ended, he left his rental flat and went to the Compass One shopping mall in Sengkang.

He wanted to buy a shaver as he did not want to appear untidy when he went back to work the next day, which was Tuesday. 

He also believed that it was inauspicious for Hindus to shave on Tuesdays, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Regina Lim.

He went to a store called Venus Beauty at the mall before going home, spending about 20 to 25 minutes outdoors.

While he was out, an auxiliary police officer went to his rental flat to check if he was home and realised he was not.

DPP Lim sought a fine of S$6,000, saying Vardireddy had deliberately breached his order “for no good reason” and had chosen a destination “where he could expect to see a large amount of human traffic”.

In mitigation, Vardireddy said that he had tested negative for Covid-19 and was wearing a face mask when outdoors. DPP Lim clarified that his test showed he was asymptomatic.

Foo Ching Guan, 32

The unemployed Singaporean was sentenced to four weeks’ jail on Wednesday. He pleaded guilty to a single charge of violating his stay-home notice after returning from Thailand on March 17.

Three days before his notice ended on March 31, he received a call from an unlicensed moneylender.

He had lent his National Registration Identity Card and stood as a guarantor for his friend about four months earlier so that the friend could borrow S$1,000 from a loan shark.

One week before Foo breached his notice, the loan shark called him as his friend had not paid up. The friend then told Foo he would settle the debt, but did not. 

When the unlicensed moneylender told Foo he wanted the money by March 28 or he would send someone to harass his family, he grew concerned. 

Foo’s mother had recently suffered a stroke and he did not wish to aggravate her condition, said DPP Lee Ti-Ting.

At about 4am on March 29, Foo decided to visit his friend. He took a private-hire car to the other man’s Sengkang home and got into a heated argument with him there.

According to Foo, his friend punched him in the head. 

The friend’s father intervened before Foo called the police. Foo revealed to the officers that he had been served a stay-home notice, then flagged down a taxi and returned home at 6am.

In mitigation, Foo told the court that he chose the 4am timing as it was “less crowded” and that he had no choice but to meet his friend to settle the matter.

Teo Say Leong, 64

Teo was sentenced to four weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to one charge under the Infectious Diseases (Covid-19 — Stay Orders) Regulations 2020, with another four charges considered for sentencing.

He had returned from Indonesia on March 20 and was ordered to remain in his flat for two weeks until April 3.

After returning home, he learned that those on stay-home notices must not leave their residence. He then made arrangements for a friend to deliver food to him every day.

However, between March 23 and 29, he left his home on five occasions.

On each of the first four occasions, he spent about one hour outside around his neighbourhood to exercise at the nearby park. Court documents showed that he was out between 6am and 8am each time.

On March 29, a team of Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers visited his home as part of enforcement checks and found that he was not there.

He had left to buy some lunch at a nearby coffee shop and gone to an open area to eat, and was out for about 50 minutes. He did not wear a face mask.

When he returned, the ICA officers reminded him that he had to remain at home at all times during the stay-home notice period.

During investigations, he lied to the authorities, saying he had gone out for only 15 minutes at a time and had worn a face mask. Police camera footage revealed the length of his outings and that he was not wearing a mask.

He told the court in Hokkien during his mitigation plea that he had suffered a stroke before and needed to exercise.

Siti Wan Su’aidah Samsuri, 25

The flight attendant was fined S$4,000 after pleading guilty to one charge under the Infectious Diseases Act. Another charge was taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that she returned from Brisbane, Australia on March 25 and was served a stay-home notice from then till April 8.

On the afternoon of March 30, she left her home with her husband and walked to the nearby Vista Point shopping mall in Woodlands to get groceries. They then went to a nearby minimart to buy cigarettes.

After spending about 15 to 20 minutes outdoors, she returned home to find enforcement officers outside her door.

DPP Sanjiv Vaswani sought the fine imposed, saying she could have gotten her husband to buy the items on her behalf and that she did not wear a face mask.

Siti said in mitigation that she did not wear one as at the time, it was not mandatory to do so. She pleaded for a lighter fine as she has two young children and has just started working part-time.

Related topics

stay-home breach quarantine Covid-19 coronavirus

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