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Man admits to killing cat, prosecution calls for counselling as sentence

SINGAPORE — A 40-year-old man pleaded guilty on Tuesday (May 10) to killing a cat by hurling it from the 13th floor of a block where he lives in Yishun.

Man admits to killing cat, prosecution calls for counselling as sentence

Lee Wai Leong at State Courts on Tuesday (May 10). Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY

SINGAPORE — Upset by a cat which “had been very noisy”, he hurled it from the 13th floor of a block in Yishun, killing it.

Lee Wai Leong, 41, who has moderate intellectual disability, pleaded guilty on Tuesday (May 10) to one count of throwing an adult male mackerel tabby over the parapet of the Housing and Development Board block where he lives, causing it “unnecessary suffering” and death.

The community court heard that Lee had committed the offence because he found that the cat “had been very noisy and had once even come into his house”. 

After throwing the cat over the parapet, Lee took the lift down to “see whether (it) managed to survive the fall”. The cat was certified to have died from a “significant external traumatic incident” with significant haemorrhage and fractures, the court was told.

The first person to be charged under the amended Animals and Birds Act, Lee faces a fine of up to S$15,000 and/or up to 18 months in jail. 

While maximum sentences for first-time offenders had been enhanced for greater deterrence in light of the rising number of animal welfare cases, the community court in this case called for a report to assess Lee’s suitability for probation. 

According to the Institute of Mental Health, Lee — a first offender who has never been employed — suffers from moderate intellectual disability and was found to be “quite obviously simple-minded”.

Both District Judge Matthew Joseph and the prosecution agreed that Lee did not act with “perverse cruelty”. Lee committed the offence out of his “simple-mindedness”, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao, who suggested for the court to consider sentencing options other than imprisonment.

An extended period of supervision, professional assistance in behavioural modification coupled with counselling to help Lee’s parents manage him better are options to be considered, said DPP Lee. “(These) can together prove to be more effective in deterring him from further offending, as well as rehabilitating him,” he said.

Defence lawyer Josephus Tan told the court that Lee’s family members have been keeping close watch on him, including locking him in the family’s HDB flat unit when he is alone at home.

The incident, which took place on Oct 30 last year, was one of several cat deaths in Yishun. About 39 cats, mostly strays, have been found abused or dead in the Yishun estate since September last year. Most recently on Apr 27, the decomposed carcass of a cat was found floating on a pond near Khoo Teck Puat hospital.

But Mr Tan stressed that it was “presumptuous” to pin the spate of deaths on Lee, who faces one count of animal cruelty for his offence. “We firmly submit that Wai Leong is not the Yishun serial cat killer and has most certainly been mistaken to be him,” said Mr Tan, urging the court not to treat Lee as the “scapegoat for any miscarriage of justice”.

Lee is expected to be sentenced on June 7. Besides him, two others have been arrested in relation to the string of feline deaths in the area.

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