Teen gets 2 1/2 years of probation

Teen gets 2 1/2 years of probation
Boaz Koh Wen Jie admitted to five of 11 charges of vandalism, theft of spray paint cans and criminal trespass.

A teenager who vandalised the rooftop of a Toa Payoh block with his friends received another shot at rehabilitation yesterday when he was given 2 1/2 years' probation.

But it is not over for Boaz Koh Wen Jie, 18, as the prosecution is appealing against the court's probation order.

Koh's four friends are now serving probation over their role in spraying graffiti atop Block 85A, Lorong 4, Toa Payoh, and other offences.

Koh, who is the last of the five to be dealt with, admitted to five of 11 charges of vandalism, theft of spray paint cans and criminal trespass.

Objecting to probation last week, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tang Shangjun said reformative training should be imposed on Koh. This is because the teenager had been given a chance when he was placed on probation in 2013 for theft in dwelling and criminal trespass.

The most culpable of the group, Koh did not take up that chance and instead re-offended, he said.

The DPP also argued that probation was not suitable in this case, where serious offences such as vandalism were committed.

In his sentencing remarks, District Judge Lim Keng Yeow said a clear signal had to be sent out that society does not condone vandalism.

Explaining why he was giving Koh another fresh probation order, the judge said a progress report stated that the teenager had made "significant changes in his lifestyle" by committing himself to regular voluntary community service.

Koh also sought out counselling, and made good and stable progress over three months in the residential rehabilitative programme at The Hiding Place.

"Indeed, this is an exceptional case in terms of the clear indications of remorse, commitment to making amends, level of insight into personal rehabilitative needs, and determination to reform," the judge said.

Under the probation order, Koh has to remain indoors from 10pm to 6am, perform 240 hours of community service and stay at The Hiding Place for 21 months. He must also be electronically tagged for four months after his discharge, or until he is called up for national service, whichever is earlier.

A progress review will take place on Oct 5.

The judge said Koh should be acutely aware that the second chance at probation now given to him was one which in most other cases would not be considered.

The maximum penalty for vandalism is a $2,000 fine or three years' jail and between three and eight strokes of the cane.

elena@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 09, 2015.
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