Man fined $1k for drinking in public offence

HE WAS on his way home when he saw some friends drinking beer near his HDB block. Tan Gak Hin took up their offer to join them - even though it was close to midnight.

He had been warned by police once and made to pay a composition fine on another occasion for breaking the law by drinking in public during restricted hours.

Yesterday, Tan, 52, was fined the maximum $1,000 after he pleaded guilty to consuming liquor in public during prohibited hours (between 10.30pm and 7am).

The case is among the first prosecutions under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act, which was passed in Parliament in January last year. The Bill came into effect on April 1 last year.

On Jan 21, Malaysian Siow Hui Lin, 28, was also prosecuted under the new law for allegedly consuming beer at a hawker centre at about 1.25am on May 6 last year. Her case is pending a trial.

A district court yesterday heard that at about 11pm on Feb 22, Tan, whose occupation is not known, met four friends near Block 279 Bishan Street 24 - a five-minute walk from his home.

At 2.25am, someone from the next block called the police to say that there had been shouting in the area for the past half an hour.

A policeman found Tan and his friends on a bench at about 2.40am, drinking beer and reeking of alcohol.

"The (officer) then notified them of the infringement under (the) Liquor Control Act and advised them to dispose of the remaining cans of beer (and) they acknowledged and complied with the directions," a police prosecutor told the court.

In mitigation, Tan, who did not have a lawyer, told District Judge Ronald Gwee via a Mandarin interpreter: "It was the 15th day of the Chinese New Year. I was on my way home and saw my friends. They told me to join them.

"I was very frustrated with my family (and) I have financial problems so I joined them for a drink."

The maximum penalty for consuming liquor in a public place during a prescribed no public drinking period is a $1,000 fine on a first conviction. Repeat offenders face a maximum punishment of a $2,000 fine and three months' jail.

His friends have been given a warning by the police.

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