SINGAPORE, Sept 14 — When a Singapore permanent resident lost his job and ran into financial trouble, he feared that the authorities would not extend his Filipino wife’s long-term visit pass as he could not continue sponsoring her stay here.
Not wanting to worry her, the British expatriate wrote eight fake emails, purportedly by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and prominent law firm Drew & Napier, telling her that her visit pass had been extended.
He carried on the ruse for almost three years before the law caught up with them in August last year.
Yesterday, David Andrew Hygate was sentenced to 14 weeks’ jail and a fine of S$8,000 (RM24,276).
The 51-year-old pleaded guilty to three charges of forgery and abetment by helping his wife Hygate Marilou Cambo to remain in Singapore illegally from September 2015 to August 2018.
Seven other similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Marilou was handed a similar sentence last month. Her husband said that she has finished serving it and has returned to the Philippines.
Hygate, who was unrepresented by a lawyer, told the court in mitigation that his actions were “due to my desperate sense and irrational thought”, and were solely because he wanted to be with Marilou.
The couple fell into hard times when he lost his job, having no home for “many months” and living in budget hotel rooms, he said.
“All these stupid emails were totally out of character Nothing I did was to cheat Singapore or for any monetary benefit,” he said.
The court heard that Hygate has been a permanent resident here since 2009.
He applied for a long-term visit pass for Marilou sometime around February 2014, and in September she was granted a year-long pass. Court documents did not state when they got married.
After he lost his job, he decided to forge the emails so that Marilou would not question him about the status of her pass, the court heard.
He set up a Google email account under the name “Manish Gupta”, purportedly from Drew & Napier, and wrote in the email that her application for a year-long extension had been approved.
In his fake ICA emails, he used reference numbers to make them seem more legitimate.
On August 20 last year, ICA officers referred the couple to its enforcement division for further investigations, after ascertaining that Marilou was an immigration offender.
The authorities then found the fake emails in her mobile phone. ― TODAY