Probation reports called for youths in 'how to spread Wuhan virus' video

(PHOTOS: YouTube screengrabs)
(PHOTOS: YouTube screengrabs)

SINGAPORE — Two youths who were involved in a video where one was filmed drinking from and replacing a bottle of drink on a supermarket shelf admitted to their charges at the State Courts on Thursday (16 July).

On 6 February this year, Quek Xuan Zhi, 17, had filmed 18-year-old Nigel Pang Yew Ming drinking two bottles of fruit juice and posted the video as an Instastory on his Instagram account. Quek captioned the video “how to spread Wuhan virus”.

Quek and Pang each pleaded guilty to one count of causing a public nuisance. Pang had earlier pleaded guilty but later retracted his plea saying that he had not consented to the caption that Quek has posted. He retracted his denial on Thursday’s court hearing.

A probation suitability report was called for the two to assess their suitability for a rehabilitative sentence. Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Timotheus Koh said the prosecution would not object to such a report in light of both their ages.

At about 6.45pm on the day of the incident, the duo went to the NTUC supermarket located at 2 Bukit Batok West Avenue 7.

While there, Pang took two bottles of fruit juice from a refrigerated shelf and drank from them. He then replaced the bottles on the shelf. The act was filmed by Quek, who later posted it on his personal Instagram account, which had at least 1,360 followers at the time.

Pang later paid for the bottles of juice that he drank from. He asked Quek to highlight the fact had he had paid in the Instastory. However, Quek only shared the information in a later Instastory.

According to the prosecution, Pang knew about the caption and that the video would be posted on Instagram. The video later gained traction on social media, with numerous people expressing annoyance at the pair’s actions, said DPP Koh.

A police report was lodged by a member of the public two days later, saying that she had came across the video on Twitter.

Representing Quek, lawyer Tan Hee Joek said that a friend of the two had decided to circulate the video in the public domain, even though the video was first posted on a private account. This was an important factor in considering how the video became widespread, said the lawyer.

Tan agreed with the prosecution’s call for a probation suitability report.

In reply, DPP Koh said that Quek’s account had a “substantial following”, hence he knew there was a high likelihood that the post would go viral.

As for Pang, his lawyer S S Dhillon simply said that he concurred with the prosecution as probation was the most appropriate sentencing option in this case.

Both will return to court on 27 August for their sentencing.

For causing a public nuisance, each can be jailed up to three months, or fined, or both.

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