Singapore

Law student, 20, gets 21 weeks' jail for assaulting cops

A young private law school student, who bit into a police officer's shoulder, kicked another officer and hurled vulgarities at yet another officer, has been sentenced to 21 weeks' jail.

In sentencing Ho Mei Xia, 20, District Judge Eddy Tham noted the "very worrying" incidence of abuse against Home Team officers.

Citing a Straits Times report on abuse data, Judge Tham rejected Ho's plea to be placed on probation, and said the prevalence of such cases called for a deterrence to stop the trend.

"Unruly and violent behaviour against police officers in the discharge of their duty must not be allowed to take root in our society.

"It is in the public interest that a firm response is needed whenever violence is committed against police officers," he said in judgment grounds released last week.

Ho, a petite 1.55m-tall student, pleaded guilty to causing hurt to an officer by biting him on the shoulder, behaving in a disorderly manner and hurling vulgarities at a police officer. Two additional charges of causing hurt were also taken into consideration for sentencing.

She committed the offences at about 6am on July 3 last year outside St James Power Station, following a dispute in a nightclub there.

Among other things, she punched one officer who tried to handcuff her, and bit and kicked another who went to help arrest her.

She also kicked and "rained a torrent of abusive words" at another officer during the six-minute ride to the police station.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Yi Ling called for a deterrent, enhanced sentence to give added protection to police officers.

She pointed to a December 2016 ST report which said there were 328 cases of abuse of Home Team officers in the first eight months of 2016, compared to 344 cases for the whole of 2015.

Ho had assaulted not one but three police officers and was belligerent throughout, she said.

Even after her arrest, she was not remorseful for her violent assaults and kept verbally abusing and taunting an officer, said Ms Goh.

Ho's lawyer Wee Hong Shern urged the court to place her on probation, as jail would affect her studies. He explained that Ho had felt bullied and exploited in a preceding incident with a gang of teens, which led her to lose her composure and temper and commit the offences.

But the judge noted that just two months before the latest offences, Ho had been fined $1,500 for disorderly behaviour against police.

"She was obviously not deterred by her first brush with the law nor by the imposition of a fine.

"Far from being a person who can be easily bullied due to her petite stature, she defied the authority of the law-enforcement officers to the extreme, and behaved aggressively."

The judge took into account that she was a youth being committed to jail for the first time and sentenced her to 20 weeks' jail for causing hurt to an officer and an additional week for disorderly behaviour by shouting. He ordered a further two weeks' jail for using abusive words towards a public servant to run concurrently.

"The accused and other like-minded offenders need to know that offences against police officers would not be tolerated and their actions cannot be taken lightly just because of their youthfulness," said Judge Tham.

Ho is on bail pending an appeal.

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