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Man who stole two cans of pork from supermarket and placed them at Bedok North mosque entrance jailed 12 weeks

The DPP said the man had displayed a 'pattern of threatening to use pork to insult Muslims', including towards his Muslim ex-girlfriend.

Food delivery rider, Ian Poh, 30, sentenced to 12 weeks in jail on 4 April after stealing two cans of pork from a supermarket and intentionally placing them at a mosque entrance.
Food delivery rider, Ian Poh, 30, sentenced to 12 weeks in jail on 4 April after stealing two cans of pork from a supermarket and intentionally placing them at a mosque entrance. (PHOTO: Google Maps)

SINGAPORE — A food delivery rider was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail on Thursday (4 April) after he stole two cans of pork from a supermarket and deliberately placed them at the entrance of a mosque.

Local media outlet CNA reported that Ian Poh, 30, pleaded guilty to one count each of theft and committing an act which he knew was prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious or racial groups.

The incident occurred on 15 May last year when Poh left a Sheng Siong Supermarket at Upper Changi Road without paying for two cans of pork valued at $9.50.

Later that evening, at around 10pm, he rode his bicycle to Masjid Al-Ansar in Bedok North and left the two cans of pork on a shelf outside designated for food delivery items.

Court documents stated that Poh had done so knowing that consuming pork was forbidden in Islam, and he knew that his actions would cause anger amongst the Muslim community in Masjid Al-Ansar, according to CNA's report.

The following morning, at 4.30am, congregants arriving for morning prayers discovered the pork cans. According to court documents, they were shocked and offended, and immediately took a photo of the two cans of pork, before throwing them into the rubbish bin nearby.

The congregants reported the incident to mosque staff. As news of the presence of pork at the mosque spread, other congregants told the staff that they were offended and insulted.

They said that such an act was highly insensitive to do at a place of Muslim worship.

The police were then informed later that day, leading to Poh's arrest on 17 May following investigations.

During questioning, Poh told the investigation officer that he thought that his actions would enrage the Muslim community and urge officers to investigate what he deemed as "voices he heard in his head", CNA said.

History of psychiatric episodes and substance abuse

Poh was then remanded at the Institute of Mental Health from 19 May to 1 June 2023 for psychiatric observation and evaluation.

CNA reported his psychiatric report said that Poh had previous psychiatric episodes in June 2021 and again in April 2022. On the two occasions, Poh had heard voices which told him, among other things, to kill himself.

Poh also had a history of substance abuse, including sniffing glue, consuming cough syrup, and using methamphetamine.

He was diagnosed with substance-induced psychotic disorder, and the report found that his psychotic symptoms had contributed to his offences. Despite this, Poh was deemed to be of sound mind and fit to plead guilty.

The court had ordered Poh to undergo an assessment of his suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO) before his sentencing. According to the Singapore courts website, MTO requires an offender suffering from certain treatable psychiatric conditions to undergo psychiatric treatment.

'Pattern of threatening to use pork to insult Muslims', including towards Muslim ex-girlfriend

Deputy Public Prosecutor Cheah Wenjie, referring to the MTO report, said that Poh was found unsuitable for two reasons: Poh was not keen towards taking follow-up action for his substance abuse and lacked a supportive figure for supervision.

Cheah said that Poh's psychotic episodes were a result of substances he voluntarily consumed, knowing they could induce such episodes and cause him to hear voices.

He said that Poh's voluntary consumption of these substances, despite knowing the effects might be dangerous and dire, was an aggravating factor.

Cheah then turned to Poh's offences, saying that Poh had defiled a place of worship and displayed a "pattern of threatening to use pork to insult Muslims".

He referenced reports indicating Poh's previous threats to place pork at his Muslim ex-girlfriend's flat and his repeated mentions of doing the same at a mosque, which he carried out.

Circumstances of offences 'highly aggravated': Judge

District Judge Kenneth Chin described the circumstances of Poh's offences as "highly aggravated" due to their deliberate and offensive nature towards a place of worship, CNA reported.

The judge said that religious and racial harmony is essential to Singapore's social fabric, and effort and progress made in maintaining the harmony are not to be taken for granted.

"Offences that jeopardise the foundation of such harmony should be firmly dealt with", he added, noting that Poh's actions had disturbed the congregants.

Directing his words to Poh, the judge said, "I hope that you have learned your lessons from this episode and please stay (away from) trouble upon your release."

Poh could have faced a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment or a fine, or both, for committing an act that is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious or racial groups.

He could have been sentenced to up to seven years' imprisonment and fined for theft.

If you have thoughts of suicide or are feeling distressed, you can call the Samaritans of Singapore's 24-hour hotline at 1767. You can also email pat@sos.org.sg.

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