Man admits to stealing tortoise during circuit breaker period

Wan Ting Koh
·2-min read
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A man who broke into an acquaintance’s home to steal a tortoise during the circuit breaker period pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal trespass on Thursday (21 January).

According to the prosecution, 36-year-old Roger Khoo Zhen Xuan had been suffering from bipolar disorder with manic relapse at the time of the offence.

A mandatory treatment order report was called for Khoo to assess if he will be suitable for psychiatric treatment in lieu of jail time. Another charge, of leaving his house in Yishun to travel to Sembawang during the partial lockdown period without permission was taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Singapore entered a circuit breaker period on 7 April to 1 June in a bid to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Accused knew victim

Khoo and the victim, Huang Guo Sheng, had known each other since their school days.

On 23 May last year, Khoo visited Huang’s home and saw that the latter was not home. He claimed that Huang had promised to give him a tortoise. However, Huang had made no such promise.

Khoo then broke into Huang’s home and ransacked his bedroom. He stole Huang’s tortoise, worth $2.50. Before he left the house, he called a locksmith to repair the broken front door.

When Huang returned, he noticed the metal gate to his home was open and that the wooden latch on his door was broken. He saw that his bedroom was in a disarray and that his tortoise was missing.

Huang then checked his phone and saw that Khoo had posted a picture of himself and the stolen tortoise on social media, with Khoo claiming that he had a new pet.

Huang then called the police at 11.54pm. The tortoise was later returned to Huang.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Shamini Joseph told the court that Khoo had been convicted of mischief and disorderly behaviour in 2015, for which he was given a mandatory treatment order lasting a year.

She did not object to the calling of a similar report in the current case, noting that an Institute of Mental Health (IMH) psychiatrist stated that Khoo was had bipolar disorder and was suffering from a manic relapse at the time of the offence. This would have affected his judgement and control.

Khoo is currently on medication and undergoing treatment at the IMH. He will return to court on 1 March for his sentencing.

For criminal trespass, a person may be jailed up to three months, or fined up to $1,500, or both.

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