SINGAPORE: A 53-year-old Indian-origin man in Singapore was on Wednesday sentenced to seven months in prison for verbally abusing police and safe-distancing enforcement officers who were urging compliance with the COVID-19 measures.
Ravi Sinathamby Subramaniam, who prosecutors said "continues to be a menace to the society" due to his involvement in a long list of offences spanning decades, committed the offences over two days last month, reported Channel News Asia.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of verbally abusing police and health officers, and a third charge of threatening to "break" the faces of three health officers, the report said, adding that another five charges were taken into consideration for the sentencing.
First, he went to a convenience store where he stood in the queue, holding an open can of beer and reeking of alcohol while complaining loudly about why the queue was not properly organised. When the police spoke to him, he turned aggressive and spoke loudly to them, trying to leave and refusing to cooperate, drawing a crowd. He hurled multiple vulgarities at the police and was arrested.
He reoffended four days later at a coffee shop. When approached by a health officer enforcing safe-distancing measures as he was wearing his face mask over his chin and not over his nose and mouth, Ravi turned aggressive.
He cursed at the officer and a second colleague who joined her, saying: "You don't let me see you again if not I will break your face." He later told the two officers and a third colleague: "The next time I see you, I will break your face."
The prosecution had pushed for at least 10 months' jail, saying that the case "presents an important opportunity for this court to send a clear message that such conduct" against frontline officers in the coronavirus fight will not be tolerated.
The judge had asked for further arguments on two similar cases as comparisons against Ravi's case, and Deputy Puiblic Prosecutor Timotheus Koh said that Ravi had committed more serious previous offences, including most recently threatening his brother with boiling water and a chopper.
"Ravi has accumulated a long list of offences spanning decades. Despite being imprisoned repeatedly, he doesn't seem to be able to remain crime-free for long." said Koh, adding that Ravi has even been caned before but "continues to be a menace to society".
His crime records now show a trend of intimidating behaviour towards public servants, he said. Ravi, who was unrepresented, said: "I apologise to the court. I apologise to the civil servant and I apologise to the government for what I have done without my knowledge because I am drunk."
The judge said he noticed that the threats in the two cases used for comparison with Ravi's were "more serious", and gave Ravi a jail term three months lower than what the prosecution had pushed for. The judge also directed a session for Ravi to be given counselling for his underlying behaviour and for treatment plans to be formulated.