Man who flung hot porridge spared jail time

A judge declined to jail a man for throwing a claypot containing hot porridge at another man, but fined him $2,000 instead.

The prosecution had urged that Benjamin Foo, 32, be jailed for a week, citing the harm he could have caused and that he had been jailed and caned before.

But District Judge Tan Jen Tse, in judgment grounds released yesterday, said a jail term would not be "proportional" to the offence, even as he stressed that the sentence should generally be a deterrent.

Hours before the incident at about 4am on May 14 this year, Foo, a part-time salesman, had been drinking at a disco in Chinatown when he accidentally knocked into a man clad in black. The man punched him but the fracas was settled amicably by the disco owner.

Foo later met a friend at Eminent Frog Porridge in Geylang for supper. While eating, he noticed a man dressed in black at another table and assumed that he was the man who had punched him at the disco.

He walked over with a claypot and flung it at Goh Si Lat, 33. It fell to the ground and the hot porridge splattered onto Mr Goh's legs.

Foo pleaded for a fine so that he could look after his children, aged 10, four and two, and said he would not be so rash in future.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yihong said Foo was intoxicated at the time and noted that he had been convicted in 2008 of vandalism and assault offences, for which he was jailed for four months and received three strokes of the cane.

The judge credited Foo for readily admitting guilt. He said the rash act was of a "low degree" and the previous offences did not mean Foo was a persistent offender, adding: "With (Foo's) focus being on family life, he should be given the benefit of the doubt." The prosecution is appealing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Man who flung hot porridge spared jail time'. Print Edition | Subscribe