Pro bono lawyer for suspected cat abuser

Lawyer Josephus Tan (above) will be representing the man suspected of hurling a cat from the 13th floor of a block in Yishun.
Lawyer Josephus Tan (above) will be representing the man suspected of hurling a cat from the 13th floor of a block in Yishun. ST PHOTO: DESMOND LUI

The man suspected of hurling a cat to its death from the 13th floor of a Housing Board block in Yishun will be represented pro bono by criminal lawyer Josephus Tan.

Lee Wai Leong, 40, was charged with one count of animal cruelty last Tuesday over the incident on Oct 30 last year.

Mr Tan said yesterday that he met Lee's family last Saturday to discuss the case.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam referred to a recent spate of cat killings in Yishun in a Facebook note yesterday.

At least 20 cats have been found dead or seriously injured in the area in the last three months. Last Wednesday, a day after Lee was charged, a tabby cat was found dead at Block 734, Yishun Avenue 5, with blood on its ears and mouth.

Mr Shanmugam said he, like many, was "horrified by the appalling cruelty, in the mutilation and killing of many cats in Yishun", describing it as "shocking, sickening".

He said Lee's family, who live in his Nee Soon GRC constituency, told his volunteers that Lee has the mentality of a child and suffers from epileptic fits and seizures. He said "it is very clear that my duty is to help Mr Lee get a lawyer". "The court can then get all the facts and decide on the question of whether he is guilty, as well as the appropriate sentence, if he is found guilty."

Mr Tan said Lee's family had sought help at a Meet-the-People Session as they face financial challenges in engaging a lawyer.

He said of taking the case: "I'm a big advocate of pro bono work and it's the right thing to do. There are always two sides to a coin."

Lee is currently being remanded for psychiatric assessment at the Institute of Mental Health.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2016, with the headline 'Pro bono lawyer for suspected cat abuser'. Print Edition | Subscribe