SINGAPORE — A former insurance agent who sent threatening letters and emails to his clients in the name of “Lord Voldermort” had his magistrate’s appeal against a 29-month jail sentence rejected on Friday (19 July).
Ye Lin Myint, a Myanmar national and Singapore permanent resident, was jailed for 29 months in January on five counts of criminal intimidation by anonymous communication and eight counts of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress.
Thirty counts of a similar nature were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Chief Justice (CJ) Sundaresh Menon cited several factors in Ye’s case, such as the extent of the offending behaviour, the number of victims and the public interest, that led him to conclude, “The sentence was not manifestly excessive. If anything, it was on the low side.
Upset with clients who allegedly disrespected him, Ye, 36, had demanded that the victims – mostly fellow Myanmar nationals – send him bitcoins. He threatened to escalate his harassment, including getting the victims fired from their jobs.
Ye signed off his communications as Lord Voldermort, a misspelt reference to the main villain in the Harry Potter novels and movies, Voldemort.
‘Seriously aggravating factor’
The court heard that Ye, who was working as an insurance agent with Prudential, had become disgruntled and angry with a number of clients. These clients had either cancelled insurance policies they previously bought from him, failed to turn up for scheduled appointments or had decided not to purchase policies from him.
In all, 43 communications were sent to 33 victims, causing the police and a Member of Parliament to issue online advisories urging the public not to respond to these emails.
CJ Menon stressed, “The appellant acted out of malice, and in my judgement, that is a seriously aggravating factor.”
He alluded to an email that Ye had sent to one of his victims, “For the last few months, I have been watching you…I know where you live. I know where you work. I know everything about you…I can destroy your reputation”
Not only did Ye abuse his access to the confidential information that his job gave him, in order to threaten “an escalating cycle of harm”, said the Chief Justice, the anonymity of his threats was another aggravating factor.
“When faced with an anonymous threat, one apprehends an inability to guard against the threat because one does not know where the threat comes from,” said CJ Menon, who added that Ye was “preying on their fear”.
At the time of the offences, Ye was suffering from depression but he was only diagnosed with major depressive disorder on 8 February last year.
But CJ Menon noted that the psychiatric evidence showed this was merely a mild episode of depression that had no significant contributory impact on his actions.
“There really is no doubt he intended to extract a monetary price from them. His failure to achieve this, due to his ineptitude or otherwise, is not a mitigating factor.”
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