Man charged for defacing Mother Mary statue wanted to 'beautify' her

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A Statue of Mary in the church courtyard. (Facebook: Church Of The Nativity Of The Blessed Virgin Mary)
A Statue of Mary in the church courtyard. (Facebook: Church Of The Nativity Of The Blessed Virgin Mary)

SINGAPORE — A man was charged in the State Courts on Friday (20 November) for defacing the Statue of Mother Mary in courtyard of the Church of the Nativity in Hougang.

Race Koh Jun Xian, 37, was handed one charge of criminal trespassing into the Church of the Nativity at 1259 Upper Serangoon Road at around 12.32am on 12 November, by climbing over the church fence while the church was not open to the public as it was under renovation.

The Singaporean was said to have gained entrance into the church compound in the vicinity of Mother Mary statue, which was under the care of the church caretaker Bernard Barberry.

Koh was also handed a charge of defiling the Mother Mary statue by pasting two yellow marbles on Mother Mary’s eye, using blue tack.

Appearing in court through video link, Koh told District Judge Brenda Tan, “I didn’t want to do this intentionally. I was sincere and wanting to pray to Mother Mary. I wanted to beautify her, I did not know that this is an offence.”

In reply, District Judge Tan told Koh that he would he be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric assessment first, as per the prosecution’s application.

Koh will return to court on 4 December.

Statue has been restored, says church in FB post

The police received a report about the vandalism on 12 November at about 10.50am. They later established Koh’s identity through investigations and CCTV footage, and arrested Koh on 18 November.

The church said earlier in a statement that the statue was found defaced at about 8.30am on 12 November, and it made a police report.

The statue has since been restored, according to a Facebook post by the church on Tuesday.

If convicted of criminal trespass, Koh may be jailed up to three months, fined a maximum of $1,500, or both. If convicted of defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class, he may be jailed up to five years, or fined, or both.

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