A decade-long feud between two neighbouring families came to a close on Monday (12 November) after one party was jailed for repeatedly harassing the other.
Lee Gek Leng, 54, was jailed for three weeks and six days for charges under the Protection from Harassment Act, trespassing into his neighbour’s home and criminally intimidating a customer in an unrelated incident.
Other charges – including mischief, criminal intimidation and cheating by falsely representing himself as a licensed electrician to the customer – were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Lee, who does odd jobs, had advertised his services – including the repair of electrical appliances – in local Chinese newspapers.
Started over a mango tree: lawyer
At the time of the offences, Lee lived in the same condominium block as the victim, Jeffrey Chan. While Chan lived on the third floor, Lee’s home was on the first floor.
According to the Lee’s lawyer, Ashwin Ganapathy, their relationship soured in 2008 over a mango tree which Lee and his wife, Mak Swee Chee, had cut down.
Lee was unaware that the mango tree had “special significance” to Chan’s personal beliefs, and the latter became hostile towards the couple since the incident, said the lawyer.
Chan began reporting the couple to various government authorities and taking videos of them without their consent. The neighbours then started filing police reports against each other for a period of time.
Lee also suspected that Chan scratched his car and threw sugar, refuse and other items into Lee’s premises from his apartment on the third floor, said Ganapathy.
These actions drove Lee to the breaking point in May 2015, when Lee and his wife decided to display a banner above their living room window – an act which formed the subject of one of the charges.
On 13 May that year, Chan looked out his window and saw the metre-long banner with the words “perverted devil b****** Jeffrey Chan II suffer V. tragic wrath for littering, vandalism & all kinds of wickedness”.
Lee had intentionally faced the banner towards Chan’s apartment to harass him, the prosecution said. Chan then called the police.
Stormed into neighbour’s apartment
Ganapathy said that his client had hung the banner in the hopes that Chan would “refrain from causing any further trouble”. However, Chan continued to harass the Lee family and Lee retaliated – leading to further offences.
On the night of 25 June 2016, Lee went up to Chan’s apartment and knocked on the door. When Chan’s son answered the door, Lee was no longer there.
Five minutes later, Lee again knocked on the door. When Chan answered, Lee hurled vulgarities at him. He tore the plastic sheets pasted in the front of Chan’s door, prompting Chan to thrust a stick at Lee in an attempt to stop him.
Later, Lee charged into Chan’s apartment and fell onto a sofa. A scuffle broke out between the two men during which Lee said, “I kill you”.
Chan’s wife called the police during the commotion and Lee was arrested.
Ten days after this incident, Lee threw crumpled newspapers soaked in kerosene at the entrance of Chan’s apartment. His actions were captured by Chan’s CCTV camera.
Used friend’s electrician’s license
In a separate incident, Lee cheated a customer by using an electrician’s license that belonged to a friend.
On 3 August last year, Lee’s electrical services were engaged by Chun Hong Hao. At Chun’s request, Lee provided an invoice to Chun.
However, when Chun’s wife called the number on the invoice, the line was found to not be in service. Chun’s son noted that the invoice did not contain an electrician’s license number.
The Chun family then approached Lee at their flat’s carpark for clarification. Chun’s wife asked for Lee’s license to prove that he was a qualified electrician but Lee produced his friend’s license instead.
Chun’s wife saw that the card did not belong to Lee and that the license had also expired. She called the police, spurring Lee to threaten to kill the family with a parang in his vehicle.
Ganapathy told the court that Lee has since sold the condominium apartment and will be moving out at the end of December. He said that this was evidence that Lee wanted to avoid trouble by ensuring that he would not cross paths with Chan again.
“They have been staying there for a long time, this is not a decision they are making lightly,” said Ganapathy, adding that Lee had shown remorse for his actions.
Mak was previously fined $1,000 for her role in the acts of harassment.
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