Upset that she had lost her job, she created a scene at a coffeeshop and later head-butted a police officer.
For her actions, 31-year-old Tan Gek Hong was jailed three months and fined $400 by the State Courts on Monday (15 January) after she pleaded guilty to one charge of causing public nuisance and one charge of causing hurt to a public servant.
The court heard that on 31 August last year, Tan was at a coffeeshop at Block 418 Yishun Avenue 11 with a male friend. She had earlier been at the State Courts to file a complaint against her former employer for allegedly unfairly terminating her.
At the coffeeshop, Tan slammed a stack of documents she was carrying onto a table, sparking a dispute with a female patron who was also seated there.
Later, while Tan was on a phone call, she began to bang the table and shout. The other patrons asked her to keep quiet but she refused.
Tan’s friend tried to take her somewhere else to finish her phone call but she shouted at him and refused to comply. More patrons then asked her to leave the coffeeshop.
A patron near Tan then called the police, saying that he saw that Tan had a “sword” on the table, and that she was behaving aggressively. When the police arrived, they discovered that the “sword” was a toy with an LED light – an item Tan had been planning to sell.
As Tan was attracting a lot of attention at the coffeeshop, the police asked her to go to a void deck at Block 419 Yishun Avenue 11. She was then told that she would be placed under arrest for causing public nuisance.
Tan became agitated, thinking that she was going to be arrested over a toy sword. She refused to cooperate when the police wanted to handcuff her and put up a violent struggle, prompting officers to bring her to the ground in order to arrest her.
Even after being restrained, Tan refused to follow the officers to their police vehicle. The officers had to carry her by her arms and legs to the vehicle while she screamed and hurled vulgarities at them.
Tan also refused to enter the vehicle, and dared police officers to break her legs if they wanted to get her inside it. Officers resorted to lifting her by her arms and legs in order to place her in the vehicle. Tan then placed her left leg outside the passenger door of the car to prevent officers from closing it.
When Sergeant Lim Sui Ling tried to move Tan’s leg into the vehicle, Tan kicked her on her left hand. Tan then tried to manoeuvre herself out of the vehicle and head-butted Lim in the process. Lim sustained a bruise on her right forehead and redness on her left hand as a result.
Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) Lim Yu Hui sought a jail term of at least three months for the assault. APP Lim pointed out that it was not a one-off incident. Tan had a prolonged exchange with the police and blatantly refused to cooperate with them, said APP Lim.
The head-butt was also to a vulnerable area and it was “fortuitous” that a more serious injury was not sustained, said APP Lim.
Tan’s lawyer Benedict Eoon said that his client was suffering from a borderline personality disorder at the time of the offence. Eoon, who asked for an eight-week jail term, added that his client was prepared to undergo further treatment upon release.
Addressing the court, Tan said she was sorry for her rash act. “Right now I think I’m very stupid to commit this action,” she said.
Tan asked for leniency, adding that she suffers from depression. On the day she committed the offences, she was upset that she was allegedly unfairly terminated from her job and frustrated with the process of filing a complaint against her former employer.
She added that she was on medication to control her “psychosis” and depression but had not been taking her medication regularly and had missed appointments at the Institute of Mental Health.
Sentencing Tan to three months jail and a $400 fine, District Judge May Mesenas stressed that Tan should not “just give vent to her frustrations when things don’t go her way”. She also encouraged Tan to find other ways to deal with her frustrations.
The judge backdated Tan’s jail term to 7 December 2017 when she was first remanded.
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