Singapore man removed mask to cough at policeman after claiming he could not breathe, jailed 14 weeks

A Singaporean man was jailed 14 weeks and given a three-year driving ban after pleading guilty to four charges that included using abusive behaviour towards a public servant and riding a motorcycle while already under a driving ban. — TODAY file pic
A Singaporean man was jailed 14 weeks and given a three-year driving ban after pleading guilty to four charges that included using abusive behaviour towards a public servant and riding a motorcycle while already under a driving ban. — TODAY file pic

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SINGAPORE, Mar 30 — When Devraj Tamil Selvan was arrested for slapping his girlfriend, police officers called an ambulance for him when he said that he could not breathe properly.

He then removed his face mask and deliberately coughed at one of the officers several times at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH). He also verbally abused them using vulgarities.

The 29-year-old Singaporean was jailed 14 weeks and given a three-year driving ban yesterday, after pleading guilty to four charges that included using abusive behaviour towards a public servant and riding a motorcycle while already under a driving ban.

District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam considered another 10 charges, such as being drunk in public, for sentencing purposes.

The court heard that on Sept 13 last year, the police received a call from a woman who said that her sister-in-law’s boyfriend was in their home “using violence”.

Three police officers from the Choa Chu Kang Neighbourhood Police Centre went to the scene. While they were there, Devraj slapped his girlfriend once on her face, leading to his arrest.

They escorted him to the ground floor of the public housing block and to the police vehicle, where Devraj pushed one of the officers.

When he was taken inside the vehicle, he claimed that he could not breathe and was taken to NTFGH.

Around midnight, while at the hospital’s accident and emergency department, he removed his mask — which everyone must wear to stem the spread of Covid-19 — and coughed at a policeman, despite several warnings from the officers and hospital staff members.

He told the officers while being assessed: “Take out the handcuff, lah, alamak, (expletive) stupid idiots.”

The court also heard that about a month earlier, Devraj’s sister-in-law called the police to say that he and her mother were fighting.

When police officers got to the scene, they interviewed Devraj who admitted that he had ridden his motorcycle from Chua Chu Kang to Jurong with his girlfriend as a pillion rider.

He had been disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for 30 months since January 2019.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eugene Teh, who asked for the sentence imposed, revealed that Devraj was previously fined S$2,000 in 2009 for theft and also served six months in the Singapore Armed Forces’ detention barracks for voluntarily causing hurt.

Most recently, in October 2019, he was jailed eight weeks for harassment offences.

His lawyer Justin Ng from Kalco Law said in mitigation that Devraj came from a broken family, with one of his older brothers in prison and the other having deserted the family. This left him to care for his mother who has depression.

His offences were “precipitated by his drinking habits” and he has since sought help from the Institute of Mental Health’s National Addictions Management Service to address his issues, Ng added. — TODAY