Man who set fire to Lighthouse Evangelism church sign jailed for 10 months

Cyrus Teo King Huat, 44, set a sign outside the church, bearing Lighthouse Evangelism's name, on fire on May 13, 2016. He was jailed for 10 months.
Cyrus Teo King Huat, 44, set a sign outside the church, bearing Lighthouse Evangelism's name, on fire on May 13, 2016. He was jailed for 10 months. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - 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, a court heard.

But Cyrus Teo King Huat, 44, was caught on camera when on May 13 he set on fire a sign, bearing Lighthouse Evangelism's name, outside the church.

The church had installed a closed-circuit television camera to monitor the sign, after it had been set ablaze a few times.

On Friday (Oct 7), Teo was jailed for 10 months, after he pleaded guilty to one charge of mischief by fire.

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

A community court heard that Teo used to attend Lighthouse Evangelism, a non-denominational megachurch, located at 81 Woodlands Circle.

On Sept 23 last year, he sent a letter to the church saying he had changed his religion, the court heard.

"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's sign. He found three more chicken heads at the church's side gate.

Later on May 13, pastor Tan went to work to find that the church's sign had been burnt. He called the police as this was not the first time it had happened.

Video footage captured a man splashing a flammable liquid on the sign, before setting it alight at about 1.55am, and then running away.

Police tracked Teo down as the culprit behind the crime.

As a result of his mischief, the church incurred $19,020 in cost to repair the sign.

Teo admitted to burning the sign on a previous occasion, sometime 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.

Then on July 13, again under arrest at the same police station for the same crime, he refused to have his photographs 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 had been under a curse, and that burning the sign would remove the curse, the lawyer said.

The maximum penalty for committing mischief by fire or any explosive substance, knowing that it would likely cause damage to property, is seven years in jail and a fine.

Under the Registration of Criminals Act, a person who is accused of a crime and under arrest can be required to give a blood sample and have photographs and finger impressions taken.

The maximum punishment for refusing to allow such body samples to be taken is a $1,000 fine and one month in jail.