Jailed for pushing female cop in chest

Man's offence 'more aggravated' than if done against male officer, says judge

A judge accepted that pushing a female police officer in the chest was "more aggravated" than if done against a male officer, in jailing a 32-year-old man for two weeks for the offence.

Benjamin Neo, 32, had admitted to pushing the plainclothes policewoman outside St James Power Station on June 18 last year at about 6am.

Noting that there was "no suggestion that the accused had intended to outrage the modesty of the victim", Magistrate Wong Thai Chuan stressed the "strong policy reasons" that justified a jail term. "Not only is there a need for our police officers to be protected through operation of our laws; (but) it is (also) in the public interest to ensure that the authority that they carry not be undermined," he said in judgment grounds released last week.

The victim, a police sergeant, was part of a police team deployed to conduct operations in the vicinity of St James Power Station at the time.

A commotion occurred in the open area outside the night spot and an investigating officer (IO) attended to the incident. The victim noticed Neo leading a group of 11 people and approaching the IO in an aggressive manner, and she attempted to stop him.

Neo's friends tried to restrain him as well. Although Neo knew she was a police officer, he pushed her in the chest, and continued moving towards the IO. He was eventually arrested by another officer for using criminal force.

Neo, who was tipsy at the time of the offence, pleaded for leniency from the court, as his child had just been born at the time of the hearing.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Lim Yu Hui called for a minimum four weeks' jail term, citing past cases.

Magistrate Wong found that Neo's guilty plea was a genuine show of contrition, noting he had "conserved state resources" by pleading guilty, among other things. He also noted that Neo had pushed the policewoman to get to the other officers and not as a deliberate act of aggression against her.

In jailing Neo for two weeks instead of longer, the judge noted that he had acted on impulse with a low level of force.

The prosecution is appealing against the sentence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Jailed for pushing female cop in chest'. Print Edition | Subscribe