Man fined for harassment over accident

Mark Lin Youcheng wrongly accused a woman online of being the driver in a hit-and-run involving a dog.
Mark Lin Youcheng wrongly accused a woman online of being the driver in a hit-and-run involving a dog.

Feeling "aggrieved and emotional" after a shelter dog was struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident, a man posted an online comment wrongly accusing one "Soon Kim Choo" of being the driver that day.

As a result, Ms Soon, a 41-year-old property agent representing Huttons Asia, received various harassment calls and text messages from unknown people.

Several people also hounded Huttons, leaving criticism and poor ratings on its Facebook page.

But it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. Ms Soon, the owner of the car, was not behind the wheel when the accident occurred on Oct 23, 2016.

For his actions, co-founder and director of animal welfare group Society for Animal Matters, Mark Lin Youcheng, 27, was yesterday fined $1,400 after pleading guilty to a harassment charge.

A second harassment charge was considered during sentencing.

At around 10.30am on the day of the accident, a dog named Sayang slipped out through an open gate at a shelter run by the Animal Lovers League in Pasir Ris Farmway as volunteers were preparing to take the dogs out on their weekly walks.

While on the road, the dog was struck by a car driven by Ms Alice Chong Say Kiaw, 52.

Court documents did not reveal how the two women are related to each other or if any action has been taken against Ms Chong.

Lin learnt of the incident after reading about it in a Facebook post, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelvin Chong.

The freelance dog trainer then decided to respond to a post by one "Lixin Tan" at around 8.30pm on Oct 24, 2016, the court heard.

 
 
 
 

The DPP said: "The accused posted one comment with the text 'identity found' and a screenshot containing the NRIC number, name, address, vehicle number and vehicle model of one 'Soon Kim Choo'. The screenshot had been forwarded to him by someone that day."

At 3.40am the next day, the DPP said, Lin posted a second comment with the text "Give her hell".

Lin also went to Huttons Asia's Facebook page and wrote: "Please manage your atrocious and cruel employee or the public will."

Ms Soon made a police report on Oct 25, 2016, and Ms Chong also alerted the authorities.

Defence lawyer Joel Ng told the court yesterday that Ms Soon later made a civil claim for defamation and the matter was settled out of court, with Lin paying $12,500 as compensation.

In an earlier report, The Straits Times said Sayang was not eating shortly after the accident. Court documents did not state its condition.

For harassment, Lin could have been fined up to $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2020, with the headline 'Man fined for harassment over accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe