He was jailed six months in 2016 for stalking his 22-year-old ex-boyfriend but that did not stop Tan Boon Wah from repeating the offence on the same day that he was released from jail.
Tan, 27, was on Wednesday (17 May) jailed nine months for two counts of unlawful stalking under the Protection from Harassment Act. He was also given 60 days’ jail – the remaining term of his first jail stint under a remission order.
Tan, a food stall assistant, began stalking his ex-boyfriend for a year after their four-year relationship ended in May 2015. The ex-boyfriend cannot be named due to a gag order.
Every morning, Tan would wait outside the ex-boyfriend’s camp, where the victim was serving national service. Tan would also wait outside the ex-boyfriend’s house in the evening.
Tan would also call the ex-boyfriend daily, chalking up a record of 1,408 calls in a single day. The ex-boyfriend changed his number in a bid to avoid Tan’s harassment. But Tan managed to get the new number from a mobile service provider by impersonating his ex-boyfriend.
Tan’s acts culminated in his arrest and subsequent conviction on 11 August 2016 after the ex-boyfriend lodged a total of 22 police reports between May 2015 and May 2016.
The latest offences
Tan was released from jail on 1 October 2016. Upon his release, Tan continued to stalk the victim at his house on several occasions.
Investigations showed that at 6.55pm on the day he was released, Tan loitered around the vicinity of his ex-boyfriend’s house. He also rang the doorbell but the ex-boyfriend ignored him and called the police, which arrived soon after and advised Tan to leave.
However, Tan persisted and was spotted by both the victim’s mother and father in the area later at night.
The same thing happened on on 27 November 2016 when the ex-boyfriend was walking home at about 10pm. Tan approached the ex-boyfriend who immediately entered his house and called the police. Tan started ringing the unit doorbell but had left by the time the police arrived.
On 8 December 2016, the ex-boyfriend’s mother spotted Tan loitering in the vicinity of their house so the victim called the police. When the ex-boyfriend left the house to attend to personal matters, Tan started following him.
Tan tried to ask his ex-boyfriend to unblock him on social media and on other communication channels, but was ignored. The ex-boyfriend asked Tan to stop following him. After a while, Tan agreed and walked off but soon after, he turned around and approached the ex-boyfriend again.
The police arrived and arrested Tan, who was remanded until 28 December 2016.
While Tan did not try to visit his ex-boyfriend again while on court bail for his latest charges, Tan posted links to videos of the victim and commented on him in an online forum in January this year.
Overwhelmed by love for his ex-boyfriend
In mitigation, Tan’s lawyer Low Hui Hui said that Tan was “overwhelmed” by his love for the victim, which affected his judgement. Tan had acted on impulse when he visited his ex-boyfriend right after his release from prison, but “nowhere did he utter anything threatening,” said Low.
However, District Judge (DJ) Kenneth Yap pointed out a particular sentence in Tan’s mitigation letter where he had expressed his desire of seeing his ex-boyfriend in the future, stating that Tan appeared to want to contact the victim again.
In his mitigation plea letter, Tan had said, “I had just hoped that he will forgive me and allow me to be able to contact him again, even if not now, at least some time in the future.” DJ Yap said, “You are clearly not getting the message.”
As for his conduct upon his release from prison, Tan claimed that he had met an inmate during his time who knew his ex-boyfriend. This inmate had offered to mediate between Tan and his ex-boyfriend, and Tan claimed that he had gone to his ex-boyfriend’s house to make an apology.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Chua rubbished this claim, adding that Tan did not show any remorse. The prosecution asked for at least nine months’ jail per charge, citing his reoffending as an aggravating factor.
Said DPP Chua, “[Tan] has demonstrated that he is a recalcitrant offender who has neither shown any regard for the law nor any regard to the harm he caused to the victim. He has also not been deterred by his previous imprisonment term, which was only imposed last year.”
“You will never be rid of me”
The DPP added that by visiting the victim’s home on the date of the release, Tan was “making good of his previous threat to the victim”.
He had, during the period of his first offence in 2015, sent an email telling him that he would “rather be dead first than to give up trying to look for [you].”
In another text message, Tan had sent, “Even if you get a protection order, I will continue to find you. I will violate it. And if I go jail for one year, when I come out I’ll find you…I’ll find you wherever you are. You will never be rid of me.”
In sentencing Tan, DJ Yap ordered Tan to undertake not to see or contact the victim again, nor to comment on social media or other publicly accessible platforms. DJ Yap also advised Tan to undergo counselling.
The judge also asked Tan to come to his senses. “Relationships start and relationships end. If you don’t face the truth, you will cause yourself, and the victim, greater damage.”
The victim, who was seen in court, left after Tan was sentenced.
For a repeated offence of unlawful stalking, Tan could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined a maximum of $10,000.