Sunday, February 28, 2016

Man jailed 6 months for slapping and punching MSF officer - Channel NewsAsia

Man jailed 6 months for slapping and punching MSF officer - Channel NewsAsia

Man jailed 6 months for slapping and punching MSF officer

SINGAPORE: Angered by a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) officer's questions over his financial situation, Tan Seng Choon slapped and punched the 34-year-old woman 11 times on her face and neck.

The 56-year-old was sentenced to six months jail on Monday (Feb 29), for his "lawless and senseless act of defiance".

Tan assaulted the officer while she was interviewing him as part of his application for financial aid. While going through Tan's financial statements, the officer realised large withdrawals had been made from his accounts.

When she asked Tan to explain these withdrawals, he "became agitated and started to gesticulate forcefully" and told her that he had lent the money to his friends. However, he was unable to produce any documents to support his claim.

Angered that the officer would not believe him, Tan reached across the table and slapped the woman's face. He walked over to her side of the table and began to punch the officer on her face and neck. By this time, the woman had backed into a corner in an attempt to ward off Tan's punches, and was screaming in pain.

The officer's colleagues heard her screams and rushed to her aid. Tan was arrested at the scene, and the woman was taken to hospital. The attack was captured on the CCTV camera in the interview room of the Social Service Office at Toa Payoh HDB Hub.

In court on Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ruth Teng said the assault was an "unprovoked, vicious attack" on a frontline officer who had just been doing her job. A clear signal needs to be sent that "wanton attacks on frontline staff" will not be tolerated, DPP Teng said, adding that the attack was a "lawless and senseless act of defiance".

Tan's lawyer Leon Koh, who took on the case as part of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, pointed out that the assault was not premeditated, and that Tan had "acted on the spur of the moment … out of anger". While he conceded that the attack was "vicious", Mr Koh noted that the officer did not sustain any bleeding or serious injuries.

The lawyer also noted that Tan had been suffering from schizoaffective disorder since the 1970s. But a psychiatric report dated January 2016 from the Institute of Mental Health clarified that Tan had in fact been aware of his actions, and deemed him fit to plead.

In sentencing Tan to six months' jail, District Judge John Ng said Tan "must realise the seriousness of his offence". Judge Ng told Tan that while he may not have appreciated the questions the officer had to ask him, she had to do her job, and his attack on her was "disproportionate and terrifying".

For causing hurt to a public servant, Tan could have been jailed up to seven years and fined. 

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