Man jailed for bribing medic for use of cellphone

SINGAPORE - A detained man who gave a $50 bribe to an army service medic so he could use his mobile phone was jailed for four weeks on Tuesday.

Castelli Lee Chun Seng, 33, a general worker, is the fourth man to have been convicted of giving bribes to Chai Yit Hoong, 25, who was in 2012 doing his national service with the SAF Detention Barracks.

Two other similar charges were considered during his sentencing.

The court heard that Lee was in the same cell with Ramesh Thangavelu, now 35, when Ramesh told him that he had found out from another detainee, Sarvenan Sundramutthy, that Chai allowed him to use the phone in exchange for money.

Both Lee and Ramesh wanted to do so too, although they knew it was against the regulations.

When Chai was doing his rounds, the duo told him what they had heard and asked if they could use his mobile phone as well. Chai did not reject the request outright.

About a week later, Lee spoke to Chai again, pleading to use his mobile phone.

On an evening in March 2012, Chai passed his phone to Lee and Ramesh through the metal grilles of their cell. He said he would be back later to collect it.

Lee asked Chai for his bank account number, which Chai keyed into his mobile phone before handing it over.

Lee then called his girlfriend and told her to transfer $50 to Chai's bank account. He did not give her any details.

On this occasion, Ramesh used the phone too. Lee returned the phone to Chai when he was doing his rounds again later that night.

Chai was sentenced to 12 weeks' jail last week after pleading guilty to six of 13 corruption charges. Ramesh has completed his four-week sentence.

Mr Ng Shiyang, who represented Lee under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme Fellowship, said in mitigation that his client was a first-time offender for corruption offences, and had cooperated with the authorities during investigation.

"His early plea of guilt is an indication of his remorse and willingness to move on from this matter quickly," he said.

Lee had previous convictions for unlicensed moneylending, cheating, causing hurt and disorderly behaviour.

He could have been fined up to $100,000 and/or jailed for up to five years for corruption.

elena@sph.com.sg