Teoh Yee Leong a 39-year-old man was fined S$4,500 on Thursday, July 23 for beating up his neighbor, whose cigarette smoke had constantly pass gently through the air into the man’s flat.
Out of frustration, Teoh Yee Leong threw eggs into his neighbor’s flat before punching him.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt to his 47-year-old neighbor, with another charge of harassment taken into consideration for sentencing.
The incident happened on May 24 last year at about 10.30 pm. Both men live in the northeast region of Singapore — the exact location was removed from court documents.
Teoh went to the victim’s home, which was directly below his flat, and shouted at the victim and his wife. He also flung some eggs into their flat.
The victim then opened his gate to talk to a disgruntled Teoh, who turned aggressive and punched the other man’s face because of cigarette smoke.
The neighbor began bleeding from his mouth and eventually left his flat to seek treatment at Sengkang General Hospital.
The attack left him with a 4cm cut over his left upper lip, with no other obvious injury. He was given a week of hospitalization leave.
Teoh has since settled the victim’s medical bill of about S$710, which included follow-up treatment.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Lim sought the maximum S$5,000 fine, saying that the victim’s injuries were rather minor.
In mitigation, Teoh who did not have a lawyer claimed that his neighbors had provoked and challenged him to a fight that evening.
The victim said that Teoh began shouting vulgarities at him and challenged him to get out of his flat claiming that he can endure the excessive cigarette smoke again.
But Teoh told the court: “Every week, there is a big group of friends drinking beer and smoking in their house… for the past six months. We endured until that day. I couldn’t take it.”
He did not specify if people had gathered in his neighbor’s home during the circuit-breaker stay-home period from April to June when people were barred from visiting the homes of others to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Teoh said that now that up to five people are allowed in the homes of others, he could still tolerate “one or two people” smoking.
Looking ahead to the day when restrictions on the size of gatherings are fully lifted, he said that he would not know what to do, and would probably “just endure and close the windows”.
Teoh added that he had asked his daughter to speak to his neighbors, but they chased her away and said that they could smoke freely in their home.
Smoking is allowed within public housing units, but not along common corridors, void decks, staircases, and covered walkways of such estates.
Teoh said: “What they did is they smoked, and on top of that, they sprayed Baygon (insecticide) up to my house, which made me very angry. So I went down and threw eggs into their house… but afterward, I was very chill and cool.
“I had no intention to hurt anyone. I just wanted to let them know the smoke irritated my family.”
Even so, Teoh acknowledged that he regretted losing his cool and was deeply remorseful for his actions.
“I hope Your Honour will be lenient, as I live with my parents and three children,” he told District Judge May Mesenas.
In passing sentence, District Judge Mesenas said that she would convene a community court conference to deal with the matter and would have Teoh undergo counseling on handling difficult neighbors.
For voluntarily causing hurt, Teoh could have been jailed up to two years or fined up to S$5,000, or given both punishments. Read here