Lawyer goes extra mile for client

An angry teenager who kicked and punched a policewoman in 2013 is getting a second chance.

Her lawyer gave her a job while defending her pro bono, or for free.

Her lawyer, Mr R. Thrumurgan, 42, is so keen on helping her turn over a new leaf that, with the teen's mother, he and his wife agreed to be bonded a total of $5,000 to ensure her good behaviour.

Yesterday, Carmen Chng Jiawen, 18, got a bigger break when she was sentenced to 18 months' probation for her behaviour when her family was involved in an ugly rental dispute at Paya Lebar Crescent.

Carmen, then 16, had lashed out at the police when they tried to arrest her brother, Pierre Chng Yuheng, 19, on June 6, 2013.

On July 7 this year, she pleaded guilty to one count each of committing mischief in a police car and voluntarily causing hurt to a policewoman.

District Judge Mathew Joseph commended Mr Thrumurgan, saying that what he and his wife, Madam Priscilla Yip, 41, had done was most unusual.

The judge said that this was probably the first case of its kind before him in which an accused person's lawyer and his wife stood as sureties to ensure a client's good behaviour.

Not only that, Carmen is now an administrative assistant at his firm, Trident Law Corporation.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom yesterday, Mr Thrumurgan said: "She's prepared to change and if we can help, we should." He said that she comes from a very challenged and difficult background.

Carmen's family used to rent a part of a house at Paya Lebar Crescent owned by Madam Khoo Kim Cheng, 56.Carmen, Pierre, their 13-year-old brother and their mother, Ms Chng Leng Khim, lived there.

The tenant-landlord relationship soured after Ms Chng repeatedly failed to pay the rent.

On March 19, Pierre was found guilty of two counts of criminal intimidation against Madam Khoo and one count of contempt of court. He was jailed for seven days and fined $4,500.

The prosecution is appealing against his sentence. The case is still pending.

A group of police officers had gone to the house at around 4.15pm on June 6, 2013, to record a statement from him.

This was about an incident that had taken place on May 22 that year, when he had threatened Madam Khoo with a 1m-long tree branch.

Pierre, however, refused to co-operate with the police and his family members tried to prevent the officers from arresting him.

They locked the door and refused to open it despite repeated warnings.Singapore Civil Defence Force officers broke it open and the police went in to arrest the three youngsters.

Carmen fell as Sergeant Srithachana R Jayaprakas was leading her out.

VIOLENT

She struggled and used both legs to kick the officer's knees and stomach when the latter tried to help her up.

While in a police car, Carmen swung both her legs against a back door and forcefully kicked the right rear passenger window.This caused the internal PVC cover of the right rear door to crack and it cost $100 to repair the damage.

After yesterday's sentencing, Madam Yip, who is the head of external communications (Asia Pacific) for Airbus Helicopters, told reporters that Carmen is quite a good girl.

The mother of two boys, aged seven and nine, added: "She's just affected by her family background...She needs guidance."

Madam Yip said that although Carmen did not complete her primary school education, she speaks well and is mature beyond her years.

Mr Thrumurgan said that she has a lot of potential and is doing well in her job. There are plans to help her continue with her studies. He said that for the past two months, Carmen has been staying at the AG Home for teenage girls, where she will stay for the period of her probation.

Carmen also has to perform 190 hours of community service and receive counselling support from a family service centre if required.

For voluntarily causing hurt to a policewoman, she could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.

For mischief, she could have been jailed up to a year and fined.


This article was first published on September 16, 2015.
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