SINGAPORE - A youth confronted blogger Amos Yee for taking a video of him as Amos had assumed that the full-time national serviceman had taken his photo, a court heard.
Bryon Loke Thong Ler, 19, subsequently chased after the 17-year-old and arm-locked him by grabbing his hands and blocking his path with his body.
Loke pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Feb 1) to using criminal force on Amos at Jurong Point at Jurong West Central 2 between 12pm and 12.50pm on May 29, 2016.
Investigations showed that Loke was at a Value Dollar shop with his girlfriend that day when he sensed that Amos was looking at him. Loke took out his cellphone and intended to capture the victim on photo to prove that the teen was "stalking" him.
Amos asked Loke if he was taking his photo, but the latter denied it. Loke saw Amos hold a mobile phone and point its camera at him.
He decided to confront Amos to ask him to delete a video he had taken of Loke. But Amos walked out of the shop.
Loke stopped Amos outside by holding his hands and the latter tried to pull his hand away and shouted: "Help me! Help me!" repeatedly.
After a while, Amos managed to break free and ran into an NTUC FairPrice outlet. Loke then called the police, saying Amos took a video of him.
While Loke waited for Amos, Value Dollar's manager reminded Loke to pay for the item he was holding in his hands. He did so.
After Loke realised Amos had left the NTUC FairPrice outlet, he chased after him and grabbed the teen's hands. He also arm-locked him from the rear.
When Amos tried to walk away and free himself, Loke continued to arm-lock him tightly. When he stopped arm-locking the victim, Loke grabbed the teen's hands and refused to let go. He also used his body to block him from moving away. Amos shouted "Help me!" repeatedly, attracting the attention of many onlookers.
Some concerned members of the public asked Loke to stop. Loke's actions were also captured on closed-circuit television footage.
Just then, Loke received a call from a police staff sergeant. He used one hand to hold the phone to speak to the officer and the other to continue holding onto Amos' hand.
He released Amos' hand after the staff sergeant advised him not to have any physical contact with the victim as it might amount to an offence.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia told the court that it was necessary to send a clear message that the authorities would not condone individuals taking the law into their own hands by resorting to the use of criminal force against another, even if they may feel annoyed or irritated by the other person, or as in this instance, find the other person intrusive in some way.
She said Loke had tackled and forcibly restrained the other person, including arm-locking him, for some time.
"The fact that the victim is not presently in Singapore does not detract from the need to convey the message that individuals should not take the law into their own hands," she said.
Amos is seeking political asylum in the United States.
District Judge May Mesenas postponed sentencing pending a probation report on March 1.
The maximum penalty for the offence is three months' jail and a $1,500 fine.