SINGAPORE — When offered a job by a friend to earn some extra income, 20-year-old Lam Ji Xiao readily agreed without asking any question, though he later admitted to the authorities that he did have some inkling that the errand was not entirely above board.
Mr Lim of NParks said that based on a medical report, the way the animals were confined would have subjected them to “unneccesary suffering”.
The cramped compartment — measuring 83cm by 36cm by 24cm — prevented the animals from “standing, turning around and lying down” in their natural manner. The compartment also did not have “adequate” ventilation.
POSSIBLY FIRST OF SUCH OFFENDER UNDER 21
Seeking a total jail term of 27 to 33 weeks, Mr Lim said that specific and general deterrence should be reflected in the punishment given.
The accused is “the latest in a long line” who has appeared before the court for the similar offence of illicit importation, he noted.
This showed that a strong message had to be sent out to other like-minded individuals, “especially foreigners” coming in for the sole purpose of committing such offences, he added.
Mr Lim also said that despite Lam’s youth and the circumstances surrounding his recruitment, the accused “had an inkling that what he was supposed to do was illegal” in nature.
This was based on the statement that Lam gave to NParks after being nabbed, where he admitted that he “roughly knew something was hidden” in the car though he was unsure where it was concealed.
In mitigation, Lam, who did not have any legal representation and was present via video link from his remand centre, pleaded briefly in Mandarin through a court interpreter for a lighter sentence.
Upon repeated prodding by District Judge Ho to tell the court about his family background, Lam said that he was the oldest of three children and had dropped out of school to start working at the age of 15.
While his father has a job, his mother is not working and suffers from depression. Only his younger brother knows that Lam has run afoul of the law in Singapore, he added.
Delivering her decision, District Judge Ho said that she had taken into account Lam’s age in calibrating the sentence.
She had said earlier that his case could possibly be the first of such cases involving an accused under the age of 21, to which Mr Lim of NParks said that he “believed so” as well.
TODAY has reached out to NParks for comment on this.
The judge said that as a youthful offender, Lam may be “more easily influenced than an adult” by his circumstances.
District Judge Ho stressed, though, that the sentence she was imposing for Lam was “commensurate” with the fact that he is a youthful offender, and “ought not to be used as a precedent” for future cases involving adult offenders.
For each count of illegally importing an animal, Lam could have been fined not more than S$10,000 or jailed up to 12 months, or both.
Each offence of not taking steps to ensure the animals were not subjected to unnecessary pain or suffering attracts a similar sentence of up to 12 months’ jail or a fine of not more than S$10,000, or both.