Man sentenced to 5 weeks' jail for breaching Covid-19 stay order twice

SINGAPORE - A man who was supposed to serve his 14-day stay order in a hotel room broke the law amid the Covid-19 outbreak when he left it on the morning of April 20 last year, took a train to Serangoon and went home.

After that, Ang Chenrui had dinner and watched a movie with a friend before returning hours later to the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach in Beach Road.

Four days later, Ang was taken to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) after he told the hotel's front desk that he needed medical attention.

But he did not register himself when he reached IMH and instead took a private-hire vehicle home.

An Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer went to the Serangoon Central flat with his colleagues at around 12.20pm the next day and found him there.

Ang was detained and admitted to IMH to serve the remainder of his stay order.

The 27-year-old unemployed Singaporean was on Thursday (Jan 6) sentenced to five weeks' jail after he pleaded guilty to two charges under the Infectious Diseases Act.

Before handing down the sentence, District Judge Marvin Bay noted that a psychiatrist had diagnosed Ang with an "adjustment reaction presenting with anxiety symptoms".

The judge also noted that Ang, who claimed to be stressed at the time, had a history of poor adjustment to stressors, which affected him when he was a student and during national service.

The judge, however, said there was an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak and added: "It is essential that the applicable laws and protocols be rigorously observed and persons breaching these laws endanger us all."

The court heard that Ang used to be a student and had been living with his friends in the United States since 2016.

He returned to Singapore in March last year to spend time with his mother before he flew back to the US the following month.

He was in transit at Narita Airport in Japan when he felt abdominal pain and returned to Singapore.

He arrived here on April 17 last year and was told to serve a 14-day stay order from then until May 1.

He was taken to the hotel and told to stay in a room on the sixth storey for the duration of the order.

Ang was also given a keycard that could be used only once. This meant he could not use the card to re-enter his room if he were to leave it.

Despite this, he left the hotel at around 9am on April 20 last year. He took a train to Serangoon, where he bought a cake, and walked home to Serangoon Central soon after.

Ang's mother was in the flat, but he did not tell her that he had been issued a stay order.

Instead, he lied to her, claiming that he did not leave Singapore earlier that month and had been staying in a rented room.

At around 6pm, he and a friend, who was a tenant in his mother's flat, went for dinner at a nearby eatery before they watched a movie together.

The court heard that Ang's friend was also unaware that he had been issued a stay order.

Ang finally returned to the hotel at around 11.35pm and asked a hotel employee for help to return to his room, claiming that he had been locked out while he was throwing rubbish.

The truth emerged when the employee checked closed-circuit television footage and saw Ang leaving his room earlier that morning.

Ang unlawfully returned to his mother's flat for the second time on April 24 last year after he left IMH.

He and the same friend then took a train to Orchard Road, where he went shopping. After that, the pair took a bus to a restaurant near Farrer Park MRT station.

After dinner, they took a train back to the Serangoon Central flat.

Ang was detained the next day and was taken to IMH to serve the remainder of his stay order.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew told the court on Thursday that Ang - in an unrelated incident - had a warrant of arrest issued against him by the Family Justice Courts over a breach of a personal protection order.

Without revealing details, the DPP told Judge Bay that the complainant in this case was either Ang's mother or father.

After handing down the sentence, the judge said checks will be made with other personnel over this matter.

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