Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Straits Times: Laguna Park man's fine quadrupled

Nov 19, 2009 
Laguna Park man's fine quadrupled 
By Selina Lum 

HE HAD laughed off his $1,200 fine for mischief, telling reporters that he spends much more money on karaoke a night.

Lee Kok Leong's words came back to bite him yesterday, when a judge quadrupled the fine to $4,800.

Justice Chao Hick Tin told him: 'I hope you are truly sorry this time round and not leaving this court and muttering something else after I give my sentence.'

The former chairman of the Laguna Park management committee told reporters in April, after he was fined for putting glue in his neighbours' locks, that he was not at all sorry for what he had done.

After his disparaging remarks made the news, the prosecution dragged him back to court to appeal for a stiffer sentence because he had mocked the criminal justice system.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Jwee Nguan asked for a 'sentence of sufficient gravity' to deter Lee and like-minded individuals, although he stopped short of pressing for a jail term. 

For his acts of mischief, Lee could have been fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to a year on each charge.

His lawyer, Mr Ramesh Tiwary, countered: 'Everything said and done, does he really deserve to go to prison because he told some reporters, 'I can afford it'?'

The judge said those remarks were 'wholly deplorable'. 'This is not conduct which the court condones,' he added. 

Justice Chao asked Lee, 63, if he was a grandfather. When Lee said yes, the judge continued: 'We are supposed to act more responsibly.

'I would expect things like this to be said by a youngster trying to 'act hero'...but I don't expect such things to be said by you, especially after serious proceedings in court.'

Justice Chao said he decided against sending Lee to jail on account of his age and medical condition. Lee suffers from depression and obstructive sleep apnoea, for which he needs a machine to sleep. 

He also has a lesion in his brain; doctors have yet to determine if it is benign or malignant.

Said Justice Chao: 'I hope this will be the last lesson you learn from the court and do not act in a manner as foolish as this.' Lee said: 'I promise I won't do it again.'

In August last year, Lee had glued the locks of two neighbours - against the backdrop of disputes over whether the condominium should be sold en bloc.

He was caught in the act by a surveillance camera installed by a neighbour.

Yesterday, Mr Tiwary said his client's acts of mischief were 'exceedingly silly' because he knew the cameras were there. The judge agreed, saying: 'This whole thing is silly. It's absurd.'

Lee kept mum when reporters approached him after his sentence. Staring blankly ahead, he drew a circle with his forefinger around his mouth.

Team Marshe
Martin Koh/ Sherry Tang
93833992/ 98444400

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