Couple who allegedly called nurse's family 'Covid spreader' also harassed others

PHOTO: The Straits Times

"Covid spreader" and "virus family" were some of the insults a couple repeatedly hurled at their frontliner neighbours since May last year.

They were charged in court today (May 21) with several counts of harassment against their Punggol neighbour, a nurse from Sengkang General Hospital and his family.

Lim Sok Lay, 48, was charged with five counts of harassment and one count of being a public nuisance. Her husband, 56-year-old Cheang Eng Hock, had two harassment charges.

Apart from insults, the pair allegedly sprayed disinfectant at their neighbours and would splash the area outside their door with soapy water. This behaviour lasted about a year.

It was also revealed in court that the couple had harassed others in a similar fashion.

They were accused of verbally abusing a man, saying "this nurse gangster" and "this Malay nurse very bad" when they visited Sengkang General Hospital in January. 

Separately, Lim was reported to have insulted other neighbours living in another unit on the same floor last October, and was accused of spraying them with disinfectant two months later.

She also caused annoyance by shouting loudly in Ngee Ann City shopping mall in February, despite repeated warnings from a police officer.

Lim was ordered to be remanded in the Institute of Mental Health for two weeks and will return to court on June 6.

Cheang, on the other hand, was released on bail of $5,000 on the condition that he did not contact his neighbours nor the prosecution's witnesses directly. He will return to court on June 18.

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One year on, frontliner family still getting soapy water splashed outside door, sprayed with disinfectant by neighbours
One year on, frontliner family still getting soapy water splashed outside door, sprayed with disinfectant by neighbours

Their actions were first brought to light when their nurse neighbour posted about his plight on social media in May last year.

In a series of Instagram stories, he recounted how the couple would spray disinfectant and even spit at his daughter who was five at the time.

Despite the police looking into the case and going through mediation at the Community Mediation Centre last June, the couple returned to their ways shortly after. The police continued to receive reports between October and January about acts of harassment by the couple.

"The police do not condone any behaviour that impacts the public's sense of safety and security in the neighbourhoods," the police said in a statement on Thursday.

"We urge members of the public to practise neighbourliness and work together to overcome Covid-19 together."

rainercheung@asiaone.com