For about two hours yesterday, Singapore permanent resident Zhang Xiu Chun kept everyone in court guessing.
The accused was unsure of her plea over a case of mischief and a frustrated-looking defence counsel threatened to discharge himself from the case.
Zhang, 39, had pleaded guilty to one charge of mischief. But she later disputed the $800 value of a table which she damaged with a hammer after she had barged into a matchmaking agency in Parklane Shopping Mall on May 11, 2013.
Her lawyer, Mr S. H. Almenoar, apologised to District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam for the delay and asked to speak to Zhang.
The judge then called for an in-chambers session with Mr Almenoar and Deputy Public Prosecutor Yvonne Poon.
When the court proceeding was about to resume, Zhang said she needed "5 minutes to consider" and that she was feeling sick. When she entered court about 15 minutes later, Judge Kamala asked her: "What's your position? It has been a long-drawn court proceeding and you've been in court many days."
Through a translator, Zhang replied in Mandarin: "I had admitted to the damage (caused to the table and other items). But I used to work in a furniture company and it (the price of the damaged table) can't exceed this price."
So the judge gave her two choices - accept the facts or go to trial.
Matters were slightly complicated as Mr Almenoar had by then applied to discharge himself.
Zhang said she "accepted everything" and wanted Mr Almenoar to represent her. She added: "I want to settle everything quickly because I'm on the verge of a breakdown. "
Mr Almenoar resumed his role, saying that his client had confronted the agency owner as "she felt that she was taken for a ride".
It was revealed in court that Zhang was suffering from a "stress-related medical condition". He said: "It was an attack on her womanhood. She felt she was cheated into being a social escort."
Judge Kamala called for a mandatory treatment order suitability report before sentencing Zhang. She will be in court next on Feb 26.
If found guilty of mischief with damage amounting to more than $500, she can be jailed not more than two years, fined, or both.
ABOUT THE CASE
Zhang Xiu Chun had joined Good Luck Friends Centre, a matchmaking agency at Parklane Shopping Mall, in February 2012.
She later withdrew her membership and was refunded part of her membership fees the following month.
On May 11, 2013, Zhang used a 34cm-long hammer to break a number-code padlock hanging on her flat's side door. She then kept the hammer in her handbag before leaving the Choa Chu Kang flat that afternoon.
Afterwards, Zhang became angry thinking about how the owner of the matchmaking agency had convinced her to sign up. She felt she had been cheated of her money.
At 3.50pm the same day, Zhang stormed into the agency's office. She brandished the hammer at the owner and swung it, damaging $880 worth of office items, including a table, court papers revealed
This article was first published on Jan 22, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.