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Navy regular gets treatment order for drunkenly throwing cactuses, shoe racks from HDB block

SINGAPORE — A 29-year-old regular serviceman from the Republic of Singapore Navy was ordered to undergo a one-year mandatory treatment order on Monday (Oct 11), for throwing various items from a Housing and Development Board (HDB) block in Yishun where he lived.

Navy regular gets treatment order for drunkenly throwing cactuses, shoe racks from HDB block

Derek Tay Zhi Cong, 29, was having problems with his marriage and was drunk when he threw killer litter, including potted cactuses and shoe racks. None of them struck anyone.

SINGAPORE — A 29-year-old regular serviceman from the Republic of Singapore Navy was ordered to undergo a one-year mandatory treatment order on Monday (Oct 11), for throwing various items from a Housing and Development Board (HDB) block in Yishun where he lived.

Derek Tay Zhi Cong was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorder — mental illnesses that had impaired his functioning and impulse control, a psychiatrist found.

The treatment order is a community sentencing option offered to offenders suffering from mental conditions that contributed to the offence.

Tay was having problems with his marriage and was drunk when he threw the killer litter, including potted cactuses and shoe racks. None of them struck anyone.

He pleaded guilty earlier this year to one charge of committing a rash act that endangered the personal safety of others.

The court heard that on Dec 31, 2019, Tay went out with some friends for drinks after work to celebrate the new year. He drank beer and hard liquor, returning home around 4am the next morning.

He became emotional after ruminating about his marital issues and began throwing items he had found along the common corridors of various levels of the HDB block when he returned.

Court documents showed that these were:

  • Two big potted plants, four potted cactuses, a shoe rack, shoes, a broom and a plastic chair from the 11th floor

  • Two shoe racks and a few pairs of shoes from the seventh floor

  • A clothes hanger from the 10th floor

A fellow resident who lived on the fifth floor then called the police, saying he had been watching television when he heard someone throwing things from the block.

Police officers arrived about 10 minutes later and spotted Tay at the staircase landing between the sixth and seventh floor, throwing some shoes down. They warned him to stop but he did not, so they placed him under arrest.

Tay’s lawyer, Ms Audrey Koo from Populus Law Corporation, earlier told the court that his relationship with his wife had soured and she had spoken about getting a divorce.

He tried to make amends by requesting to be based in Singapore for work, but fell into depression when his marriage issues did not improve. He then began drinking when his wife took their young daughter to his in-laws’ home on weekends, Ms Koo said.

The defence counsel added that Tay used alcohol to “self-medicate his low mood” for several months before confiding in his colleagues. While he also went for counselling sessions at the Singapore Armed Forces, the sessions were frequently disrupted due to the constant change in counsellors.

Ms Koo said that Tay was remorseful and is now receiving treatment for his alcohol addiction at the Institute of Mental Health’s National Addictions Management Service. This was his first brush with the law.

He had committed the offences “in a moment of folly” and was “overwhelmed by his frustration arising from personal and work issues”, the lawyer added.

He could have been jailed for up to six months or fined up to S$2,500, or punished with both.

Related topics

crime court killer litter drunk depression marriage

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