SINGAPORE — While on a crow-culling operation, two former auxiliary police officers with Certis CISCO neglected to display warning signs in the area and ensure that no one was around in the vicinity.
Lance Corporal Eric Kow and Corporal Joseph Goh Chin Peng, who worked part-time, managed to kill two crows, but metal pellets from Kow’s shotgun had lodged in the wall of one of the nearby units where a resident discovered holes.
Kow, 23, was jailed for four weeks while Goh, 27, was fined $2,500 on Wednesday (29 January) over the incident on 12 February last year.
Kow admitted to committing a rash act to endanger the personal safety of others while Goh pleaded guilty to the abetment of the act. Both were dismissed from Certis CISCO on 15 April last year.
At the time both men were assigned to the same team to cull crows in various locations in Singapore. Kow was deployed as the shooter and given a shotgun with ammunition, while Goh was his safety officer. Both were equipped with a crow-culling danger sign as well as a body-worn camera.
Kow, a Malaysian, was trained in the use of a shotgun in November 2017 and had since been deployed 120 times as a shooter before the incident. Goh, a Singaporean, had performed the duty of safety officer some 30 times by then.
On the day of the incident, the two officers parked their vehicle near a carpark beside a block where they spotted crows. Kow alighted with the loaded shotgun and told Goh to bring the warning sign as a show for the recording body-worn camera. The warning sign was not used.
Goh then remained in the car instead of preventing the public from walking within the shooting area as his role required. The duo also did not use a cordon, and Goh remained in the car, as the men did not want to alert the crows.
Without checking if any units had their doors or windows opened, and despite being aware that the line of fire was less than 150 metres from the block, Kow shot at the two crows, killing them. His line of sight to the unit behind the tree was blocked at the time.
Goh alighted from the vehicle some six seconds after the shots were fired and saw the two dead birds, as well as a group of elderly women sitting at a table below the block. Kow then took the dead birds and packed them into the vehicle. The duo then left.
A resident in the HDB block was awoken by a loud sound and later found the wall near her front door damaged by metal pieces. A police report was lodged later that night.
Her unit was only about 23 metres away from Kow and in his direct line of fire. A total of 20 small metal pieces were extracted from the wall.
A forensic examination of the metal pieces found that they were non-lethal shot pellets. At the distance that Kow shot the pellets, skin perforation would be expected. However, no one was injured in the incident.
Certis CISCO subsequently compensated the resident of the unit for the damage.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong asked for the maximum fine of $2,500 for Goh and a jail term of one-and-a-half months for Kow.
She said that there was no way a person could have taken evasive measures and that the pellets could have caused serious injuries. Kow would have been aware of the consequences as he had received training, while Goh had only put up a show for the bodyworn camera.
In mitigation, Kow’s lawyer Delton Tan said that Kow came to Singapore in 2016 to work and was also doing his part-time diploma studies in design and advertisement in a private institution here.
“My client comes from humble family background and has to support both parents. His mother was previously hospitalised from kidney illness so he has to start work at early age. Since his unemployment in April last year... he has not been able to send money home,” said the lawyer. Kow currently lives off handouts from family and friends and shares a rental flat with other foreigners.
Kow was carrying out his job dutifully and was not using a military weapon, said the lawyer.
The lawyer raised the possibility of a short detention order for Kow as he had not caused any injuries, adding that the client was still in his final phase of studies and a jail term would be excessive and disproportionate.
Lawyer Don Tan, who represented Goh, said that it was his client’s first brush with the law.
“Before this, his conduct was good and he was given an award previously for saving a man who choked on a fishball - this was reported online and I would submit that the offence was an error judgement and lapse in attention,” said the lawyer.
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