Using a screwdriver, lawyer M. Ravi and his friend Lai Yew Thiam gained entry into the locked office of a law firm on multiple occasions.
Lai, who has been in and out of jail since 1978 for crimes including theft and drug offences, was sentenced to four weeks' jail yesterday after pleading guilty to two counts of housebreaking.
The 56-year-old admitted that he and Ravi had broken into the office of the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm at People's Park Centre in Upper Cross Street on June 23 and 27. A third count of breaking into the same firm on June 17 was taken into consideration during sentencing.
Ravi, 48, was barred from practising for two years on Oct 27 last year. Despite this, the firm employed the human rights activist, letting him work at its office. However, on June 8, his employment was terminated and he was told he had to vacate the premises by June 16. Court papers did not reveal the reason for Ravi's termination.
Ravi and Lai first broke into the office on June 17, and the firm's staff called the police, making clear the pair were not welcome. The lock was then changed. The pair went back five days later and tried to enter but failed.
Undeterred, they returned the next day at around noon. Using a screwdriver, Lai managed to unscrew the sides of the metal shutter to bypass the new lock. The police were alerted and the pair left "after some initial resistance", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong.
The pair returned to the law firm on June 27 and committed housebreaking yet again.
DPP Ong urged District Judge Brenda Tan to sentence Lai to at least four weeks' jail for each housebreaking charge.
Lai's lawyer Satwant Singh 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 been rebuilding his life for the sake of his son." Lai works with his brother-in-law in their family business.
He is out on bail of $5,000 and has to surrender himself at the State Courts on Jan 15 to begin his sentence.
On Nov 27, Ravi pleaded guilty to one count each of housebreaking, assault and causing hurt by performing a rash act. He is out on $20,000 bail and will be back in court on Jan 5.