Man charged with kicking teen in 'racially aggravated' act

Man charged with kicking teen in 'racially aggravated' act
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A security officer was charged yesterday with kicking a 16-year-old madrasah student in what court papers say was a "racially aggravated" act.

He was also charged with acting rashly to endanger the personal safety of two other teenagers, who were from the same madrasah.

No plea was taken from Koh Weng Onn, who was arrested last Saturday and remains in custody.

In the first charge, the burly 48-year-old is accused of hurting the teen by kicking her on the right thigh in Paya Lebar Road at 7.22am last Friday .

In the second charge, he is said to have swung a plastic bag containing a filled 1.5-litre water bottle at a 14-year-old girl, a minute later .

The bag hit her on the face as she was walking along the pedestrian pavement by the side of the road.

The third charge accuses him of hurting another 14-year-old girl on an escalator at 7.24am. Court papers say she was on the ascending escalator at the Paya Lebar Circle Line MRT station when Koh, who was on the descending escalator, allegedly swung the plastic bag with the bottled water at her and it hit her on the face.

The attacks prompted government and community leaders of all races to stress over the weekend that racially motivated acts of violence will not be condoned.

They also urged all communities to stand united against such acts. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean had said: "As a society, we should stand together against all forms of violence against innocent persons, especially if there may be racial or religious undertones."

Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Yi Ling told District Judge Ronald Gwee that these three holding charges were the result of investigations over the weekend. The prosecution will review them subsequently when more facts are known.

She said preliminary investigations so far revealed that Koh had made a high number of police reports - 90 of them - in the course of five years.

She said: "Most of these reports appear to have been generated by his belief that he was being targeted by others.

"He also made reports which nobody would have thought of making a police report about."

Examples, she said, included a report against a sales promoter immediately after buying a product from her and a report about a woman he felt was "sitting inappropriately".

Koh will be remanded for pyschiatric observation until the next mention of the case on April 18. The alleged victims cannot be named due to a gag order by the court.

The maximum penalty for racially motivated hurt is three years' jail and a $7,500 fine. If convicted of the other two charges, Koh could be jailed for up to one year and fined up to $5,000 on each charge.

This article was first published on April 5, 2016.
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