SINGAPORE - A Singaporean teenager who threatened to kill English Premier League (EPL) football player Neal Maupay has admitted to his offences.
Derek Ng De Ren, now 19, also threatened to kill the sportsman’s family members.
The 23-year-old forward with Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club and his family were in Britain when the threats were made in June and July last year.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jeremy Bin said in court on Wednesday (June 2): “As a result of these messages, the victim felt distressed, believing the accused’s threats to be legitimate and credible.
“The victim and his family did not leave their home as far as possible, for fear of being attacked.”
Ng pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of harassment. Two other similar charges will be considered during sentencing.
On June 20 last year, Mr Maupay scored the winning goal against Arsenal Football Club in a match that saw Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno carried off the pitch injured after a tussle with Mr Maupay.
DPP Bin told District Judge May Mesenas: “The accused watched the match... in his grandmother’s home in Singapore.
“The accused, an Arsenal supporter, was angered by the victim’s goal and Arsenal FC’s (Football Club) loss. He also blamed the victim for the Arsenal goalkeeper’s injury.”
Using an anonymous account, Ng sent the threatening messages via social media platform Instagram.
In one message four days later, he said: “You think you will get away for injuring Leno? No way in hell bruv... But don’t worry you will be safe you won’t be hurt.
“It’s more fun watching you feel pain when your loved ones go through suffering.”
He sent Mr Maupay another message the following day, abusing him with vulgar language.
In another message on June 26 last year, Ng said: “Your family will be attacked later in the day, just watch.”
The court heard that Mr Maupay did not respond to the messages and instead, reported the incident to EPL’s online abuse reporting system.
Instagram then blocked Ng’s anonymous account.
Undeterred, Ng created a new anonymous Instagram account on July 1 last year and sent Mr Maupay another message, saying: “You think by reporting my account you’re safe? I will kill you and your family.”
An EPL representative in Singapore alerted the police here on Aug 11 last year following an investigation.
On Wednesday, Judge Mesenas called for reports to assess Ng’s suitability for probation and reformative training. Offenders given the latter will be detained in a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.
Ng will be sentenced on July 7.
In a statement on Wednesday, EPL chief executive Richard Masters said that the online abuse Mr Maupay received was “appalling” and that “nobody should have to deal with such threatening messages”.
He added: “As this case shows, we take each report seriously and will do everything we can to identify and investigate offenders and pursue legal action, wherever in the world they may be.”
Thanking his club, the EPL, as well as Singapore’s police and courts, Mr Maupay said: “The vile and toxic abuse of which I was on the receiving end is a daily occurrence for many professional athletes and public figures, and I hope this goes some way to showing those online trolls that it is totally unacceptable and that the authorities are prepared to take the necessary action.”
His club’s chief executive Paul Barber also thanked parties including the Singapore’s authorities for “recognising the severity of the offence”.
Mr Barber also stressed that “all available legal resources” will be used to identify perpetrators.
For each count of harassment, an offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $5,000.