A man who broke into the office of law firm Eugene Thuraisingam LLP along with non-practising lawyer M Ravi was sentenced to four weeks’ jail at the State Courts on Thursday (7 December).
Lai Yew Thiam, 56, pleaded guilty to two counts of housebreaking for illegally entering the firm’s office at People’s Park Centre on two occasions in June this year with the intention of annoying the firm’s security officer.
One count of housebreaking, for another incident in June, was taken into consideration for Lai’s sentencing.
Lai, who handles operations in a family business, is married and has a seven-year-old son. He committed the acts with Ravi, 48, who pleaded guilty to the same offences on 27 November. Ravi is expected to be sentenced in January.
Eugene Thuraisingam LLP had taken over the office space in question from Ravi around the time the latter was prohibited from practising in October 2016.
Even though the law firm employed Ravi as its head of knowledge management and strategic alliances, and permitted Ravi to work from the office, it fired him on 8 June and ordered him to vacate the premises by 16 June.
On 17 June, Lai and Ravi broke into the office, prompting staff to call the police. The two were told they were not welcome. The firm then engaged a locksmith to change the lock of the office’s metal shutter door.
However, the two broke into the office again on 23 June and 27 June. On these two occasions, the two used a screwdriver to unscrew the metal gates to access the premises.
On all three occasions, Ravi recorded the acts and posted the videos on Facebook.
The prosecution, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sarah Ong, asked for four weeks’ jail per charge. She acknowledged that Ravi was the main perpetrator in the intrusions but that Lai had a past history of theft offences.
Lai was jailed for a string of theft offences dating back over 20 years. He has also been convicted on traffic and drug offences.
DPP Ong added that the firm had already made clear to Lai and Ravi that they were not welcome following their first break-in.
In mitigation, Lai’s lawyer Satwant Singh said that his client, who had known Ravi for 15 years, knew Ravi to be a “person with a very good heart, always willing to help others, and going the extra mile for his legal cases”.
Lai felt pity for Ravi, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006, said Singh. When Ravi suffered a relapse two years ago, Lai acted as Ravi’s caregiver for six months to ensure that the latter took his medicine.
The defence asked for no more than four weeks’ jail for Lai’s charges, which carry a mandatory jail term. For housebreaking, Lai could have been jailed up to two years and/or fined on each count.
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