Jail, caning for splashing paint at pre-school

Thai national received $800 to commit act of harassment over debtor's unpaid loan

A Thai national travelled to Singapore on Jan 13 last year, splashed paint at a pre-school in Tanjong Pagar attended by a debtor's children, and left the country that evening.

His part in the crime became known only after his Singaporean accomplice was arrested for a separate offence of loan-shark harassment by police in March last year.

Samroeng Sompop, 33, who was arrested at Changi Airport last month, was yesterday sentenced to 15 months in jail and three strokes of the cane for unlicensed moneylending harassment.

He admitted to committing the offence with Lee Tiow Kiong, an act likely to cause annoyance to the staff of the Modern Montessori International pre-school at The Pinnacle@Duxton in Cantonment Road.

Red paint was found splashed on the pre-school's door, gate, walls and windows and about 30 notes containing details of the debtor and his family were strewn around the floor of the surrounding area.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Sum said investigations showed that the debtor had taken a loan from a loan shark, known as Ah Siao, in August 2015 and subsequently defaulted on payments.

From late September 2015, the debtor was harassed via text messages and calls from unknown numbers. Red paint was later splashed outside his unit at The Pinnacle@Duxton.

Loan sharks also went to his workplace. He and his family then moved out and he transferred his two children to another childcare centre.

Police learnt of Samroeng's involvement after Lee's arrest.

Lee, 56, said he picked up Samroeng from the airport earlier that day and drove him to the pre-school after agreeing to pay the Thai national 20,000 baht (S$800) to commit the act of harassment.

After the act, he drove Samroeng to Queen Street where the latter took a taxi to Johor Baru, and eventually made his way back to Thailand.

Lee has already been dealt with.

Samroeng's sentence was backdated to Feb 18.

He said in mitigation that he did not know it was a pre-school, and that he was sorry.

The maximum penalty for unlicensed moneylending harassment is five years' jail, a $50,000 fine and six strokes of the cane.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Jail, caning for splashing paint at pre-school'. Print Edition | Subscribe