Man acquitted of trespassing into church and defacing statue

A man accused of trespassing into the premises of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary last year and defacing a statue of Mary was acquitted of all charges in a district court on Monday.

Race Koh Jun Xian, now 38, was handed a discharge amounting to an acquittal, which means he cannot be charged again with the same offences.

The police yesterday said Koh was given a stern warning after consultations with the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Koh was charged on Nov 20 last year with one count each of criminal trespass and defiling a place of worship with intent to insult a religion, and was ordered to be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health.

He was found to have an extensive history of substance use disorder, but was not assessed to be of unsound mind at the time of the offence. The incident happened on Nov 12 last year.

The police received a report that the statue in the courtyard of the Catholic church in Upper Serangoon Road had been defaced. The church was closed for renovation works at the time.

Investigations showed that Koh had climbed a fence and used Blu Tack to stick marbles where the statue's eyes are.

He was identified after officers from Ang Mo Kio Police Division viewed footage from closed-circuit television cameras.

"The man claimed he had wanted to pray to the statue and intended to beautify it out of gratitude," said the police. "No permanent damage was done to the statue by the man's act." - THE STRAITS TIMES