Toa Payoh vandal Boaz Koh Wen Jie's enrolment into a rehabilitation centre just days before he pleaded guilty to vandalism, theft and criminal trespass was a "tactical ma-nouevre" to get a lighter sentence.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Francis Ng argued this in court yesterday, as he urged Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon to send Koh instead to the Reformative Training Centre.
Koh, 18, was given 21/2 years' probation last month for his crimes. He was one of five people who vandalised the rooftop of a Housing Board block in Toa Payoh in May last year.
The others have been given probation, but Koh, who was already on probation for an earlier offence at the time of the crime, was considered most culpable, DPP Ng noted.
He added that Koh's enrolment at rehabilitation centre The Hiding Place in January this year - eight days before he pleaded guilty in court - was a tactical move to avoid harsh punishment.
"It's really not a buffet for the accused to pick and choose the punishment of their choosing," he said.
But Koh's lawyer, Mr Randhawa Ravinderpal Singh, said his client had been assessed to be genuinely remorseful. "I am just pleading with you to give him a chance," he told the court.
CJ Menon said he did not want to send a signal to the community that young offenders could "pick and choose" their punishment.
He reserved judgment and said he would give his decision within two weeks.