Amos Yee found guilty of two charges: Probation or jail?

Amos Yee found guilty of two charges: Probation or jail?
Amos Yee Pang Sang (centre, in dark blue T-shirt and grey bermudas) leaving the State Courts with his parents, Mr Alphonsus Yee and Madam Mary Toh.

The prosecution yesterday offered probation to blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang, 16, because of his youth.

It means he would not need to go to jail and have a criminal record.

No thanks, said the teenager's defence.

In a twist, his lawyer told the judge: Fine him or jail him for two weeks.

These conflicting views led District Judge Jasvender Kaur to stand down the case and summon Yee's lawyers, his mother and the prosecution to her chambers to discuss the matter.

There was a flurry of activity in the courtroom as his lawyers and parents, Mr Alphonsus Yee and Madam Mary Toh, later met Yee inside his holding room.

When the hearing resumed about an hour later, one of his lawyers, Mr Alfred Dodwell, told the court that Yee had agreed to have the judge call for a report to assess his suitability for probation.

Judge Kaur called for the pre-sentence probation report, which will be presented on June 2. Yee could be sentenced on that day.

Earlier yesterday afternoon, Judge Kaur convicted Yee of the two charges against him.

They were for electronically transmitting an obscene image of late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and late former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and for uploading content online that contained remarks against Christianity.

A third charge under the Protection from Harassment Act, accusing Yee of posting an insulting video clip online containing remarks about Mr Lee, was withdrawn. He was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal.

PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT

Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Hay Hung Chun had asked the court to call for a report to assess Yee's suitability for probation and a mandatory treatment order, which requires offenders to go for psychiatric treatment for up to two years.

In a media summary from the Attorney General's Chambers, DPP Hay explained that the prosecution wanted Yee to consider probation so that he would not have a criminal record.

He would also be given opportunities to be rehabilitated and reintegrated, he added.

However, during his mitigation plea in court yesterday, Mr Dodwell told Judge Kaur that Yee did not want to be placed on probation.

He instead asked for a fine or a jail term of two weeks, especially since Yee had already spent 18 days in remand.

'CORRUPT AND DEPRAVE'

In her 15-page judgment, Judge Kaur felt the obscene image posted by Yee has "a tendency to corrupt and deprave".

She said: "Would any teacher approve of such an image to be viewed by his or her students in the school library?

"In my judgment, the answer would be an emphatic 'no'."

On the other charge, she said that Yee's comments about Jesus "are clearly derogatory and offensive to Christians".

"It is not in dispute that the accused spent two to three days conceptualising, writing, filming and editing the script.

"I am therefore satisfied that the intent was deliberate."

Yee is now out on $10,000 bail, put up by his parents.

No condition is attached to the bail. He had to remove his rant-filled video and the blog post containing the obscene image by last night.

CELEBRATE OR MOURN

When asked what he would do to ensure his son's good behaviour in future, Mr Yee replied: "We will try our best."

Asked if Yee intends to appeal against the convictions, he replied that he would discuss it with his son's legal team first.

Yee, who wore a dark blue T-shirt with grey bermudas, and his parents stepped out of the State Courts building at around 7.15pm yesterday.

He smiled and waved at his supporters, numbering about 20, who were waiting outside.

When reporters asked him how he was feeling, he smiled and replied: "I don't know if I should celebrate my release or mourn my sentence."

The Yees then left in a waiting taxi.

For uploading content online that contained remarks against Christianity, Yee can be jailed for up to three years and fined.

For transmitting an obscene image electronically, he can be jailed for up to three months and fined.

ashaffiq@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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