Chance encounter led teen to crime

A Chance meeting between two former schoolmates ended with one teenager forcing the other into being a lookout while he splashed paint on flats in loan shark-related offences.

Yesterday, 16-year-old Josiah Chua Weijie pleaded guilty to helping his former school senior, 18-year-old Dave Kek Jun Qi, commit harassment on behalf of a loan shark, known only as "KC", in the early hours of Feb 14.

While heading home on the evening of Feb 13, Josiah bumped into Kek, who shared his plans to target residents in Pasir Ris later that night.

When Josiah turned down a request to come along, Kek grabbed his shirt and threatened to splash paint at his home. Josiah relented and at about 2am, the duo and a 13-year-old female accomplice went to a block of flats along Pasir Ris Drive 1.

Josiah and the girl were the lookouts as Kek splashed red paint outside a Housing Board flat and vandalised the walls of a nearby staircase landing.

Josiah, an Institute of Technical Education student, also admitted to a similar offence committed the next day, as well as to an unrelated count of theft on July 2 last year.

Both of these will be taken into consideration when he is sentenced on Aug 28. The court has called for a report on his suitability for probation.

Kek's case is still pending. It is understood the girl, who is under 16 and cannot be named, was let off with a stern warning to avoid disrupting a stint she is already serving in a children's home.

Individuals committing harassment under the Moneylenders Act for the first time face up to five years' jail and a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000.

This article was published on Aug 1 in The Straits Times.

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