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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Low IQ man sentenced to 18 months' probation for killing cat

Lee Wai Leong, who suffers from moderate intellectual disability, threw a male cat 13 storeys to its death in October last year.

SINGAPORE - A 41-year-old man was sentenced to 18 months’ probation on Tuesday (Jun 7) for animal cruelty.

Lee Wai Leong, who suffers from moderate intellectual disability, threw a male cat 13 storeys to its death in October last year.

The cat died from multiple traumatic injuries, including fractures and organ failure.

Lee is the first to be convicted and sentenced under enhanced animal cruelty laws, passed by Parliament in 2014. The enhanced laws introduced tougher penalties for those caught abusing animals.

On Oct 30 last year, Lee picked the stray cat up from the ground floor of Block 115B Yishun Ring Road. Minutes later, he flung the cat over the parapet on the 13th storey because it "had been very noisy".

Lee has the IQ of a 10-year-old child, his lawyer Josephus Tan had said at a hearing last month, during which Lee pleaded guilty to one count of animal cruelty.

His mental disability is why the prosecution, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao, agreed to call for a probation suitability report for Lee.

The court heard Tuesday that the report concluded Lee committed the offences due to “a lack of moral intelligence and social judgement … and self-control”, as opposed to out of malice.

Mr Tan, who took up Lee’s case under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, said probation would be "a big step towards (Lee’s) rehabilitation".

Describing the cat's killing as a "cruel … cowardly act against a defenceless creature", District Judge Mathew Joseph told Lee that if he were to reoffend, it "would be taken very seriously".

“A single act of violence against an animal is one case too many”, the judge said.
But he stressed that Lee is not the “Yishun cat killer”, and that the public should not view him as such.

A spate of cat deaths in the Yishun vicinity since last year prompted the judge, as well as Lee’s lawyer Mr Tan, to make this clear.

Mr Tan, speaking to reporters after the hearing on Tuesday, said Lee is mentally disabled and understands only "simple things". This disability cannot be treated, Mr Tan said, differentiating Lee’s diagnosis from one of being mentally unsound.

"One can be treated (with medication), one cannot", he said, adding that he feared for Lee’s safety given the comments made by members of the public on Lee’s case.

Lee’s parents have been bonded S$5,000 to ensure their son’s good behavior.

Under the Animals and Birds Act, Lee could have faced up to 18 months in jail, a fine of up to S$15,000 or both.

By Vanessa Paige Chelvan

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