Judge rejects probation for teen girl who threatened to 'dig out eyeballs'

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SINGAPORE — Probation was rejected for an 18-year-old girl who carried out separate vicious assaults on two teenage girls just hours apart in 2018, with the judge instead sentencing her to a more rigorous sentence of reformative training.

Joyce Goh Kok Tin had shown defiance to authority, a lack of insight into her offences and inadequate family support, said District Judge Seah Chi-Ling on Thursday (27 February).

The judge noted that even as Goh’s lawyer had suggested a hostel option to go together with Goh’s probation term, probation continued to be unrecommended for her.

“(Goh) needs to be rehabilitated in a more structured and rigorous environment,” said DJ Seah, who sentenced Goh to at least 12 months of reformative training.

Reformative training is usually given to young offenders for more serious offences. It lasts between 18 and 30 months, and results in a criminal record.

Violent acts, threatening words

On 17 December 2018, Goh had punched a girl, and forced her to “kowtow” with her forehead to the ground, following a dispute over a relationship with a teenage boy.

Later that day, she led a group attack on another girl, burning her neck with a cigarette while her friends sat on the victim and laughed.

She then told the girl, “I will dig out your eye balls and put them in your bare hands. Then I’ll cut your nose off and dig out your intestine with my hands down your throat and any other organs I can grab. Then I’ll pluck off your nails one by one and skin you alive.”

Poor insight towards violence

Goh pleaded guilty in the State Courts on 3 December, admitting to one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt and one count of rioting. One count of criminal intimidation was taken into consideration during her sentencing.

The prosecution had sought reformative training for Goh, citing an unfavourable probation report which stated that the hostel had rejected Goh due to her poor insight towards violence despite repeated interventions. Goh had not acknowledged her behaviour as violent.

Goh’s other risk factors included her difficulty in regulating emotions, her pro-violence attitude, and poor parental management. There was a high likelihood that Goh could turn to verbal aggression, which could escalate to physical aggression if she perceived unfair treatment.

Goh had also minimised her involvement in the offences to a senior clinical psychologist, even though she was the main instigator of the offences.

‘Troubling’ that parents were unable to control her

On Tuesday, Goh’s lawyer John Koh said that his client was still young.

“Hopefully she can put all this behaviour past her,” said Koh, who added that Goh had been trying to get a job and had been “trying her best to turn over a new leaf” over the last few months.

“This is also reflected through parents who have informed me her behaviour significantly improved,” he said.

However DJ Seah interrupted Koh here to say that the support was not borne out from the probation suitability report. He added it was “troubling” that Goh’s parents were unable to control her.

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