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Man trespassed into cinema to watch free movies, scratched staff

Wan Ting Koh
·Senior Reporter
·4-min read
(SCREENSHOT: Golden Village Jurong Point/Google Maps)
(SCREENSHOT: Golden Village Jurong Point/Google Maps)

SINGAPORE — A 20-year-old man who trespassed into cinemas without paying for tickets would watch multiple movies in different cinema halls before leaving midway to avoid being caught by staff members.

However, Joseph Wong Wei Jun's trespassing ways eventually caught the eye of staff members who tried to restrain him, but who ended up getting hurt when Wong made his escape.

On Monday (15 March), the court called for reports to assess Wong's suitability for a mandatory treatment order, probation, and a day reporting order after the unemployed man pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal trespassing into Golden Village cinemas and one count of voluntarily causing hurt to a staff member. Five counts of a similar nature will be taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Wong suffers from several psychiatric issues, which he told District Judge May Mesenas arose from a rough childhood.

In the afternoon of 16 October last year, Wong entered Golden Village's premises in Junction 8 in Bishan without paying for a ticket. He watched two to four movies and left midway through each movie to avoid the staff members who would stand at the entrance of each cinema hall at the end of each movie.

At around 8.15pm, he was spotted by a staff member exiting the cinema. The staff recalled Wong previously entering the cinema without a valid ticket. He approached Wong to ask for a ticket. Wong refused to produce one. Wong claimed he left the ticket in the last row of Hall 2.

When the staff member told Wong that he would bring him to see the manager, Wong fled, but the staff managed to catch up with him in the hallway.

The staff tried to restrain Wong but the latter scratched him a few times on his face and hands before security guards intervened and the police were called. The staff member suffered superficial lacerations to his hand and face.

Earlier this year, on 11 February, another staff member of Golden Village at Jurong Point noticed Wong in a cinema hall and ushered him to use the exit point. However, Wong insisted on leaving through the entrance as he wanted to use the toilet.

The staff member recalled that she had not seen Wong entering with a valid ticket and also recognised him from previous incidents where he had not bought a ticket.

She grabbed Wong by the hand to the manager's office to detain him, and led him to the ticketing counter for assistance. However, Wong broke free from her grip and scratched her left wrist in the process. He then fled.

CCTV footage captured Wong entering the back door at level one, which was linked to the staircase leading up to the cinema hall's unattended exit, at 1.22pm.

The police were then alerted to the case, with the complainant stating that it was the third time they had reported Wong to the police.

Wants to reconcile with parents

The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor Shamini Joseph, asked the court to call for a mandatory treatment order suitability report, based on an Institute of Mental Health report produced during investigations into Wong's offences.

The IMH psychiatrist found that Wong had some disorders. Wong also had a history with IMH, even though he eventually defaulted on appointments, the DPP noted.

Addressing the court through a videolink, Wong apologised for his actions and said that he had reflected on his actions while he was in remand.

He told the court that his parents had subjected him to "physical" and "verbal" abuse since he was a child, resulting in him being diagnosed with anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and suicidal thoughts. After completing his O' levels, he decided to leave home at the age of 17 instead of remaining with his abusive parents, he said.

He then rented a room on meagre savings and the stress pushed him towards "things he was not supposed to do" as a coping mechanism.

He asked for chance to return to IMH for treatment and promised to fully comply with his medication until he is recovered.

He also asked for a chance to see a psychologist and counsellor so that he can reconcile with his parents.

Wong will return to court on 5 April for his next hearing.

Criminal trespass carries a jail term of up to three months, or a fine of up to $1,500, or both. Voluntarily causing hurt carries a jail term of up to three years, or a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.

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