Singapore man broke into friend’s home to steal tortoise during circuit breaker after suffering manic relapse

Roger Khoo Zhen Xuan broke into his friend's home during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period in May last year to steal a tortoise. — TODAY file pic
Roger Khoo Zhen Xuan broke into his friend's home during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period in May last year to steal a tortoise. — TODAY file pic

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SINGAPORE, Jan 21 — While in the midst of a manic relapse of his bipolar disorder, Roger Khoo Zhen Xuan mistakenly thought his friend had promised to give him a tortoise.

Khoo then broke into the other man’s home during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period in May last year to steal the reptile.

Today, Khoo pleaded guilty to one count of criminal trespass with the intention to annoy his friend and former schoolmate, Huang Guo Sheng. The charge was reduced from a more serious one of housebreaking.

Khoo will return to court for sentencing on March 1, where District Judge Mesenas will consider a second charge of leaving his Yishun home for a non-permitted reason under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulation 2020.

The judge called for a report to assess if Khoo is suitable for a mandatory treatment order — a community sentencing option offered to offenders suffering from mental conditions that contributed to the offence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Alexandria Shamini Joseph told the court that an Institute of Mental Health (IMH) psychiatrist found Khoo to be suffering from bipolar disorder, and had relapsed at the time of his offence.

This would have affected his judgment and control, the psychiatrist further found.

Khoo’s lawyer Joshua Tong said that he is currently taking medication and undergoing treatment in IMH.

He previously underwent a year-long mandatory treatment in 2015 after being convicted of mischief and disorderly behaviour.

The court heard that the incident happened on May 23 last year.

Circuit breaker regulations were in force then to limit the spread of Covid-19, with people only allowed to leave their homes for essential purposes such as buying groceries.

At about noon, Khoo went over to Huang’s Sembawang home. Seeing that the other man was not home, Khoo broke in and ransacked his bedroom, stealing the tortoise that was valued at about S$2.50.

Before leaving, Khoo called a locksmith to repair the broken front door.

Huang returned home and noticed the wooden latch on his door was broken, with his pet tortoise missing.

When Huang checked his phone, he saw that Khoo had posted a picture of himself and the tortoise on social media, claiming he had gotten a new pet.

Huang then called the police at about 11.54pm. He eventually got his tortoise back.

Criminal trespass with intent to annoy carries a maximum jail term of three months or a fine of up to S$1,500, or both. — TODAY

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