SINGAPORE — A Singaporean who returned home from the US in the midst of the pandemic was placed on a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) but left his designated SHN facility at a hotel twice to shop, watch a movie and eat out.
The second time Ang Chenrui breached his order at JW Marriott Singapore Hotel was after he had requested to visit the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for treatment. After permission was granted, Ang was conveyed to the IMH but left the premises without registering and went for a shopping trip.
Ang, 27, who is currently unemployed, was jailed for five weeks on Thursday (6 January), after he pleaded guilty to two counts under the Infectious Diseases Act for breaching his SHN. Two other charges of a similar nature were considered for his sentencing.
Ang, who was studying in the US, returned to Singapore in March last year to spend time with his mother. He served a 14-day SHN at Fairmont Hotel Singapore then. On 15 April, he left Singapore for the US but experienced abdominal pain while in transit in Japan. He sought medical treatment and took a flight to Singapore.
He arrived in Changi Airport in the wee hours of 17 April and was instructed to serve his SHN at JW.
On 20 April, Ang left his room at the sixth level and unlocked the door to the emergency staircase, intending to leave the hotel. He entered a lift at the 16th level meant for guests of the hotel who were not serving any SHN. He took the lift to the ground floor and left the hotel before taking an MRT from Esplanade MRT station to Serangoon MRT station.
Ang bought a cake at a shop before heading to his mother’s flat in the area, and did not tell her about his SHN. He lied that he had not left Singapore on 15 April but had been staying at a rented room.
He then left to have dinner with a friend who was also a tenant at his mother’s flat. The two later watched a movie at Nex. He also lied to the friend, saying that he was living with another friend and found a job in Singapore. He did not tell her about his SHN.
After the movie, Ang returned to his hotel. As he could not gain access to the sixth level, he took the emergency stairs to the fifth level where he used a service phone to call a hotel employee. He claimed that he had been locked out of his room while he was throwing rubbish and that he went to the fifth level corridor as the service phone along the corridor on the sixth floor was not working.
The employee escorted Ang to his room on the sixth level but later found that the phone was working fine. Suspicious, the employee asked his colleagues to check CCTV footage, which had captured Ang leaving the hotel.
On 24 April, Ang called JW’s front desk to say that he needed to seek medical attention at the IMH. He obtained permission and was conveyed to IMH in the morning. Instead of registering himself, Ang left and took a private hire vehicle to his mother’s flat.
Ang then left the flat with his friend who was living there and they visited Orchard to shop before taking a bus to a restaurant to eat.
JW later checked Ang’s status with IMH, which replied that there was no record of Ang registering. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority were informed about Ang’s disappearance.
Ang was found at his mother’s flat on 25 April. He was then sent to IMH where he served the remaining days of his SHN.
In total, Ang had been in public for 14 hours and 18 minutes. His movement was tracked using EZ-Link card records. He tested negative for COVID-19 for this period.
Lawyer: Ang committed offences due to stress
His lawyer Michael Han set out Ang’s offence against the background of his mental condition. Ang had been diagnosed with having an adjustment reaction and had thoughts of self harm at the time of the offences.
Ang, who was a Hwa Chong Institution student, had not performed well in his A-levels around 2013 and also had to deal with his parents’ divorce in 2019.
Later, when he served his first SHN upon returning from the US, he was placed in a hotel with design decor that reminded him of his father, who was an artist. The decor also made him think that he did not have a place to sleep in his father’s house.
When he breached his second SHN to return to his mother’s flat, it was akin to Ang “seeking refuge" in a "place of comfort”, said the lawyer.
Replying to these allegations, Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew said that Ang had known that what he was doing was wrong. It was not a situation in which Ang was “so distraught mentally or emotionally that he could not think clearly or control himself,” said the DPP.
The prosecutor pointed out that Ang did not run home to hide in his room, but had gone shopping, watched a movie and dined out.
Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore