Neo Gim Huah (image – Mediacorp)
Neo Gim Huah (image - Mediacorp)
Neo Gim Huah (image – Mediacorp)

Neo Gim Huah, the man who slapped teenage blogger Amos Yee outside the state courts on 30 April,  has been found guilty by the court of one count of voluntarily causing hurt and sentenced to three weeks imprisonment.

Mr Neo had pleaded guilty in the morning session of the hearing and he asked the courts for leniency.

The 49-year old had walked up to Yee, who was on his way to a pre-trial conference at the court, and slapped him on the face, before running off and taunting Yee with what sounded to be a call to sue him.

Amos, 16, was charged on 31 March for uploading an obscene image online and content with the intention to wound the religious feelings of Christians.

He was also charged earlier under the Protection from Harassment Act 2014 as it “contained remarks about Mr Lee Kuan Yew which was intended to be heard and seen by persons likely to be distressed”, however the charge has since been stood down and put on hold.

It was reported earlier that Mr Neo was arrested at 2 am on 1 May and subsequently charged for one count of voluntarily causing hurt.

Mr Neo had said that he had intentionally hit Yee in the presence of the media as he “wanted the assault to be publicised so that the world at large would know that (Yee) was being taught a lesson.”

“This child is so disobedient that even the elders, parents, police, the court and the society will not have any impact on him,” he said. “I remember how arrogant he was…That’s why I thought by giving him one slap would instill fear in him, and also let him know what are the ways of the world.”

Neo, who apologised in his statement to Yee and his parents for the act, also said that Yee had been disrespectful and had insulted Singapore’s “founding father” Lee Kuan Yew.

He wanted to “teach Yee a lesson as an elder” and had not actally wanted to hurt the teenager.

He said that he had wanted to punish Yee after watching Yee’s video, adding that while initially restrained himself, he became outraged shortly before Yee’s third court appearance on Apr 30, when he realised the blogger had flouted his bail conditions.

The prosecution had asked for two weeks’ imprisonment for Mr Neo before the court was adjourned for the afternoon.

When hearing resumed, District Judge Ronald Gwee allowed Mr Neo to give further points to mitigate his sentencing.

Mr Neo said in Mandarin that this is his first offence. He added that he understands the feelings of a father when a child is disobedient and how a father works hard for his children. He said that he knows that he had done wrong and hoped the judge can give him a second chance.

He also said that he hopes to be fined only and not jailed as he does not wish to hurt his wife and three children further.

The prosecution did not rebut Mr Neo’s additional points.

Despite Mr Neo’s pleas, the judge found him guilty of voluntarily causing hurt, an offence under Section 323 of the Penal Code.

The judge said that  he agreed with the prosecution’s argument that Neo’s action was pre-meditated, and that another point of aggravation was Mr Neo seeking to maximise the publicity of his assault on the teenager – striking outside the State Court and in full view of the media, with disregard for the sanctity of the institution of justice.

The judge also noted that Mr Neo had indicated in his statement that he does not believe that criminal justice will be meted out to Yee. This suggests that Mr Neo saw a need to take things into his own hands and that he believes that it is right for Yee to be taught a lesson.

The judge emphasised that it was up to the law to judge Yee and for the courts to carry out its due process.

Which is why he believes that a strong message must be sent to deter this kind of vigilantism.

Mr Neo was sentenced by the judge to three weeks imprisonment and to serve his sentence with immediate effect from Monday.

Mr Neo did not show any reaction when the sentence was passed.

For his offence, Mr Neo could have been sentenced with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine which may extend to $5,000, or with both.

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