Jail for man who set church sign on fire

A CCTV camera was installed at Lighthouse Evangelism in Woodlands to monitor the sign outside the church, after it had been set ablaze a few times. On May 13, Teo, who has delusional disorder, was caught on camera setting fire to the sign.
A CCTV camera was installed at Lighthouse Evangelism in Woodlands to monitor the sign outside the church, after it had been set ablaze a few times. On May 13, Teo, who has delusional disorder, was caught on camera setting fire to the sign.ST FILE PHOTO

Ex-Lighthouse Evangelism member also left joss sticks and chicken heads outside church

A disgruntled former member of Lighthouse Evangelism church, who was suffering from delusional disorder, placed joss sticks and chicken heads outside the church in Woodlands on several occasions.

But Cyrus Teo King Huat, 44, was caught on camera when he set fire to a sign bearing Lighthouse Evan- gelism's name on May 13. The church had installed a closed-circuit television camera to monitor the sign, which is outside the church, after it had been set ablaze several times.

Yesterday, Teo was jailed 10 months after he pleaded guilty to one charge of mischief by fire.

Three other charges were taken into consideration in sentencing: mischief by fire, refusing to allow a policeman to take his photo and finger impressions, and refusing to give a blood sample.

Teo used to attend Lighthouse Evangelism, a non-denominational megachurch at 81, Woodlands Circle, the court heard.

On Sept 23 last year, he sent a letter to the church saying he had changed his religion. "Teo was dissatisfied with the church, and also admitted to placing joss sticks and chicken heads outside the church on several occasions," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Esther Tang.

On Oct 2 last year, Pastor Timothy Tan Soo Chai, 57, found three chicken heads, joss sticks and burnt candles in front of the church sign. He found three more chicken heads at the church's side gate.

On May 13 this year, Mr Tan found the church sign burnt. He called the police.

Video footage showed a man splashing a flammable liquid on the sign, before setting it alight at 1.55am and running away. Police tracked Teo down. The church spent $19,020 to repair the sign.

Teo admitted to burning the sign on a previous occasion, some time between 9am on May 2 and 12.45am the next day.

On May 3, while under arrest at Jurong Police Division on suspicion of having committed mischief by fire, Teo refused to give a blood sample to a policeman.

On July 13, again under arrest at the same police station for the same crime, he refused to have his photos and finger impressions taken.

Teo's pro-bono lawyer Cheryl Ng Huiling said he is seeking treatment at the Institute of Mental Health for delusional disorder. Teo believed that he was under a curse, and that burning the sign would remove the curse, the lawyer said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'Jail for man who set church sign on fire'. Print Edition | Subscribe