Singapore

Jail for man who broke into office with M. Ravi

Lawyer M. Ravi and his friend Lai Yew Thiam used a screwdriver to break into the locked office of a law firm on multiple occasions.

Lai, who has been in and out of jail since 1978 for such crimes as theft and drug offences, was sentenced to four weeks' jail yesterday after pleading guilty to two counts of housebreaking.

The 56-year-old admitted that he and Ravi had broken into the office of Eugene Thuraisingam law firm at People's Park Centre on June 23 and 27. A third count of breaking into the same firm on June 17 was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Ravi, 48, was barred from practising for two years on Oct 27 last year. Despite this, the firm employed the human rights activist, letting him work at its office.

However, on June 8, his employment was terminated and he was told to vacate the premises by June 16. Court papers did not mention the reason for the termination.

Ravi and Lai first broke into the office on June 17, and the firm's staff called the police. The lock was then changed. The pair went back five days later and tried to enter but failed. Undeterred, they returned the next day at around noon. Lai used a screwdriver to remove the sides of the metal shutter to bypass the new lock.

The police were alerted and the pair left "after some initial resistance", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong. They broke into the law firm again on June 27.

DPP Ong urged District Judge Brenda Tan to jail Lai for at least four weeks for each housebreaking charge.

Lai's lawyer said of his client: "His last brush with the law was in 2009 and since then, he has been rebuilding his life for the sake of his son." Lai is out on $5,000 bail and has to begin his sentence on Jan 15.

Ravi, who pleaded guilty to one count each of housebreaking, assault and causing hurt by performing a rash act on Nov 27, is out on $20,000 bail. He will be back in court on Jan 5. - SHAFFIQ ALKHATIB

COURT & CRIME