Judge praises lawyer for helping teen client

Carmen Chng Jiawen (left) with lawyer R. Thrumurgan's wife, Ms Priscilla Yip, who says the teen just needs guidance.
Carmen Chng Jiawen (left) with lawyer R. Thrumurgan's wife, Ms Priscilla Yip, who says the teen just needs guidance. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Lawyer and wife act as 18-year-old's sureties to ensure her good behaviour

A district judge yesterday commended lawyer R. Thrumurgan for stepping forward to help his teenage client with a troubled past to turn around.

Community Court Judge Mathew Joseph said this was probably the first case he had seen of an accused person's lawyer and his spouse stepping forward to be sureties to ensure the teen's good behaviour.

He said he was glad to see that the accused - Carmen Chng Jiawen, 18 - had come to her senses, having displayed anger and restlessness several times in court. He urged her to put the "unfortunate developments'' behind her, saying she has "a whole life ahead" of her.

He told her to talk and listen to her counsel and her mother and not be sidetracked by the misplaced intentions of others who had previously been close to her.

Judge Joseph granted her 18 months' probation and warned that she would be sent back to court and re-sentenced if she misbehaves or re-offends during that time.

She will continue to stay in a girls' home, remain indoors from 10pm to 6am, perform 190 hours of community service and receive counselling support from a family service centre if required.

Mr Thrumurgan, 42, his wife Priscilla Yip, 41, head of communications - Asia Pacific of Airbus Helicopters, and Carmen's mother were bonded for $5,000 to ensure her good behaviour.

Carmen had pleaded guilty to kicking a policewoman and the rear window of a police car .

Deputy Public Prosecutor Carene Poh had said that on June 6, 2013, Carmen, her mother and younger brother were at their Paya Lebar Crescent home when police went to arrest her elder brother, Pierre Chng Yuheng, now 19, for criminal intimidation.

The siblings refused to open the door despite repeated warnings.

When the police forced their way in, Carmen became hysterical and struggled violently when a policewoman tried to handcuff her. Carmen was being led out of the house when she slipped and fell on some steps, which were wet due to rain.

When the policewoman tried to help her up, Carmen struggled and kicked her in the knees and stomach. She also scratched her hands.

After she was handcuffed and taken to a police car, she kicked the rear passenger window.

Mr Thrumurgan told reporters that Carmen, who is now an administrative assistant at his law firm, Trident Law Corporation, came from a very challenged and difficult background. "She demonstrated a keen resolve to change and do something about her life,'' he said.

Ms Yip said: "She has no ill intent towards anybody. I think she just needs guidance and somebody to show her that the world is not as bad as it seems because of all the things she has gone through.''

Meanwhile, the prosecution's appeal against Chng's one-week jail sentence for contempt of court and $3,500 fine for pointing a stick at his then landlady in May that year will be heard next month .

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2015, with the headline 'Judge praises lawyer for helping teen client'. Print Edition | Subscribe