A teenager who assaulted foreign workers with his friends because he was bored and thought they would not fight back was sentenced to 10 days’ detention yesterday.
Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of reformative training, which involves a minimum of 18 months in detention.
Daryl Lim Jun Liang, 18, was also ordered to report to a supervision officer every day for one year, during which he has to wear an electronic tag and observe a curfew from 10am to 6pm.
Lim, who was involved in four such incidents in September and October last year, also has to perform 150 hours of community service within the year. Youths aged 14 to 21 who are sentenced to reformative training undergo structured counselling as well as academic and vocational training for up to two-and-a-half years. In contrast, short detentions are more lenient community-based sentences.
Lim is now out on S$15,000 bail after the prosecution applied for a pause in the start of his sentence while it studies whether to appeal. It must file an appeal within two weeks.
Last month, Lim pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt, with another charge taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that Lim and three others met on Oct 3 last year, hoping to practise their fighting skills by assaulting foreign workers. At around 6am, they spotted 48-year-old Chinese national Zuo Yu Nian. Lim and a 15-year-old accomplice — who cannot be named because of a gag order — repeatedly punched Mr Zuo in the face and mouth before fleeing.
Pressing for reformative training as a deterrent sentence, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai said the attack was “particularly heinous” as Lim and his accomplices had a clear intent to attack a specific group of people — foreign workers whom they deemed “physically weak and unlikely to fight back”.
Noting the rise in the number of youth crimes involving violence, the prosecutor said there is a “more-than-ever pressing need” to send a clear message to potential offenders that such acts cannot be tolerated and will be firmly dealt with by the law.
Last year, 322 youths were arrested for rioting, 13.8 per cent higher than the 283 cases in 2013. The total number of youths arrested also increased from 3,031 to 3,094 in the same period.
Mr Lai said placing Lim on probation will “offend public interest … (and send) the wrong signal … that such a serious offence will only be met with a slap on the wrist”.
He added that the Government’s “zero tolerance” of youth violence was also made plain in Parliament in 2013 when Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean reiterated that all young people who engage in violence will be brought to justice, regardless of their age.
Although he agreed that Lim’s offence was premeditated and targeted a vulnerable group, District Judge Lim Keng Yeow ruled that reformative training was unnecessary given Lim’s age and that it was his first offence. The judge also noted that probation officers had assessed Lim’s risk of re-offending to be low.