Toa Payoh vandal sent for reformative training

Toa Payoh vandal Boaz Koh Wen Jie has been given reformative training for vandalism, theft and criminal trespass after Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon allowed the appeal by the prosecution to stand on Wednesday.
Toa Payoh vandal Boaz Koh Wen Jie has been given reformative training for vandalism, theft and criminal trespass after Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon allowed the appeal by the prosecution to stand on Wednesday.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Toa Payoh vandal Boaz Koh Wen Jie has been given reformative training for vandalism, theft and criminal trespass - as Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon allowed the appeal by the prosecution to stand on Wednesday (July 29).

The prosecution had argued in an earlier hearing that Koh's sentence of 30 months' probation was too lenient for his crimes.

Deputy Prosecutor Francis Ng pointed out that Koh had enrolled himself into a rehabilitation centre eight days before he pleaded guilty, saying that was a "tactical manoeuvre" to get a lighter sentence.

DPP Ng instead urged the court to send Koh to the Reformative Training Centre (RTC).

Those sent to RTC have to serve between 18 months and three years, and undergo a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.

On Wednesday, CJ Menon said that given the seriousness of the crimes, a term of confinement and deprivation of liberty was warranted to send out a stronger message of deterrence.

Koh, 18, was one of five people who vandalised the rooftop of a Housing Board block in Toa Payoh in May last year.

Calling the vandalism "vulgar", CJ Menon said: "The vandalism was done in a manner to shock and attract widespread attention."

In sentencing, he noted that there were two aggravating factors. First, Koh had committed the crime while still on probation for an earlier offence.

Second, risk factors, including a lack of interest in studies and a lack of family support, continue to persist.

But the Chief Justice noted that it was promising that Koh had shown signs of a "positive turnaround" while at the rehabilitation centre.

"I welcome these signs of reform and repentance," said the CJ, encouraging Koh to continue to mend his ways.

Koh's lawyer, Mr James Ow Yong, said his client had accepted the sentence, and was prepared for a stint in the RTC.

Mr Ow Yong said of Koh: "In the last six months, his attitude has really changed. Just look at the fact that he's prepared to accept RTC."