Lai Yew Thiam, a friend of non-practising lawyer Ravi Madasamy also commonly known as M Ravi, was sentenced to four weeks' jail on Thursday (7 December) after pleading guilty to two counts of housebreaking.
Mr Lai, 56, has been in and out of jail since 1978 for crimes including theft, drug, and traffic-related offences.
Armed with a screwdriver, the man admitted that he and Mr Ravi had broken into the office of Mr Ravi's former colleague Eugene Thuraisingam at People's Park Centre on the fifth storey on 23 and 27 June, while the third count of breaking into the same law firm on 17 June was taken into consideration during sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sarah Ong told the court that the incident happened after the law firm terminated Ravi’s employment and told him to vacate the premises by June 16.
After the first break-in on 17 June, the firm engaged a locksmith to change the lock of the metal shutter door to secure its shutter with screws. Undeterred, the duo broke into the office again on June 23, around noon.
At the time, Lai bypassed the new lock by using a screwdriver to remove eight metal screws fastened to the metal shutter gate, while Ravi shot a video and streamed the break-in “live” on his Facebook page. The duo then lifted the shutter and entered the premises of the office.
DPP Ong said that the staff of the firm alerted the police and the pair left "after some initial resistance". She then urged the court to impose a four-week jail sentence per charge. However, she noted that Mr Ravi was the main perpetrator of the offences.
For housebreaking, Mr Lai could have been fined and jailed up to two years.
The court was told that the duo had been friends for 15 years.
In his mitigation plea, defence lawyer Satwant Singh said his client was "genuinely remorseful" for his actions, adding that the housebreaking offences were not done with the intention to steal, but was a result of a “commercial dispute” Ravi had with the law firm.
He also pleaded for his client to be jailed for a maximum of four weeks, adding, "His last brush with the law was in 2009 and since then, he has kept a low profile and has been rebuilding his life for the sake of his son."
He stressed that Mr that Lai was "acting on the instructions of Mr Ravi" and the reason why he was willing to do it was because he felt pity for Mr Ravi knowing that Mr Ravi was going through a difficult period.
Lai works with his brother-in-law in their family business and is out on bail of $5,000 to settle some personal issues before servicing his sentence. He has to surrender himself at the State Courts on 15 Jan to begin his sentence.
Mr Ravi was convicted of housebreaking in November and also faces charges relating to committing a rash act and voluntarily causing hurt to two other lawyers.
He will return to court on 5 January next year.