Lawyer praised for helping his teenage client get back on her feet

Lawyer R. Thrumurgan and his wife, Ms Priscilla Yip (right), executed a $5,000 bond to ensure good behaviour from Carmen Chng (left), together with Carmen's mother.
Lawyer R. Thrumurgan and his wife, Ms Priscilla Yip (right), executed a $5,000 bond to ensure good behaviour from Carmen Chng (left), together with Carmen's mother.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A district judge commended a lawyer on Tuesday for stepping forward to help a teenager in trouble back up on her feet.

Describing it as most unusual, Community Court Judge Mathew Joseph said this was probably the first case of its kind before him in which an accused person's counsel and his wife stood as sureties to ensure her good behaviour.

He accepted the recommendations of a probation officer and placed Carmen Chng Jiawen on 18 months' probation for kicking a policeman and the rear passenger window of a police car.

Under the order, the 18-year-old will remain indoors from 10pm to 6am, perform 190 hours of community service, and receive counselling support from a family service centre if required. She has been staying at a girls' home voluntarily.

Her lawyer R. Thrumurgan, 42, his wife, Ms Priscilla Yip, 41, head of communications - Asia Pacific of Airbus Helicopters, together with Carmen's mother, executed a $5,000 bond to ensure her good behaviour.

Carmen is the younger sister of Pierre Chng Yuheng, 19. who was sentenced in March to a week's jail for contempt of court and fined $4,500 on two counts of criminal intimidation.

The court heard that Carmen, then 16, refused to open the door to the family's Paya Lebar Crescent home to let the police arrest her elder brother on June 6, 2013.

When police got in to arrest Carmen, Pierre and their younger brother, she became hysterical. She shouted and struggled violently when police tried to handcuff her .

When a policewoman was taking her out of the house, Carmen slipped and fell on the narrow steps leading to the main door. The policewoman was trying to help the teenager up when Carmen kicked her on the knees and stomach. She also scratched the victim's hands.

After she was handcuffed and taken to a police car, Carmen swung her legs against a back door and kicked a rear window.

Two other charges were taken into consideration.

Mr Thrumurgan told reporters that Carmen comes from a very challenged and difficult background.

"She demonstrated a keen resolve to change and do something about her life. She is doing well,'' he said.

Ms Yip said she found Carmen to be a "good girl'', adding that the teenager 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 Pierre's sentences for contempt and one of the criminal intimidation charges will be heard next month.