SINGAPORE, Aug 19 — After an emotional hearing interrupted by a commotion, Benjamin Glynn, who did not wear a mask on an MRT train and outside the State Courts, has been jailed for six weeks.
The sentence was passed yesterday (August 18) after he was found guilty of four charges of failing to wear a mask without reasonable excuse, public nuisance and using threatening words towards a public servant
Glynn, 40, who is British and not represented by a lawyer, defended himself during the hearing that lasted more than eight hours — disrupted at one point by a woman who had to be removed from court after she refused to wear a mask.
Glynn repeatedly told the court that the laws do not apply to him and even mocked Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Timotheus Koh, telling him to return to law school.
He also asked the prosecutor if there were any more messages from his family.
“Maybe my dead grandmother contacted you from beyond the grave?” he asked, referring to a previous hearing where DPP Koh said that Glynn’s family and friends had written in to report that there was a “marked change of behaviour” in Glynn that was noticeable, especially after Covid-19 restrictions were imposed.
Midway, Glynn cried when he spoke about wanting to be reunited with his two children in England.
Wednesday was the second time Glynn returned to court for his trial, after District Judge Eddy Tham ordered that the man be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to assess if he had any mental conditions.
Glynn asked DPP Koh why he did not enquire about his stay at IMH, which he described as “pretty tough” because he had no books. “Just me and myself. Thank you for that.”
Glynn was assessed by the IMH to have no such mental conditions and the prosecution — composed of DPPs Koh and Claudia Chen — called upon three witnesses from the Singapore Police Force.
The first was Senior Staff Sergeant Amirudin Nordin, who gave evidence that he had been investigating Glynn’s case and had obtained the incriminating footage against Glynn that showed him not wearing a mask.
This included a viral video clip of Glynn telling commuters on a train that he would “never wear a mask”, as well as security camera footage from the State Courts that included clips of Glynn arriving for a hearing without putting on a mask and then immediately removing it when he left the building.
The next two witnesses were Inspector Chee Xiu Quan and Assistant Superintendent Alvin Quek who gave separate testimonies about their encounter with Glynn close to midnight on May 8.
The officers testified separately that they had gone to Glynn’s home at a condominium located along Holland Road to investigate if he was indeed the man seen in the video taken onboard the train.
Glynn asked the officers to speak to him at the foot of his block as he did not want to disturb his family.
There, he admitted to the men that it was indeed him. Inspector Chee said Glynn then added that he believed Covid-19 was a hoax, and that “vaccines were bad for human health”.
He also told officers that he was very religious and believed in the “one true Elohim (God)” and that he was a boxer who could take them on.
Assistant Superintendent Quek said that the encounter was cordial, though it took a turn for the worse when the men tried to arrest Glynn.
They said Glynn had adopted a boxing stance and said that he would “****ing drop” both of the officers.
Inspector Chee, in response, hit Glynn on the thigh with a retractable baton, which caused Glynn to run away and lead the men on a chase around the condominium.
They were only able to handcuff him after he tripped and fell.
Glynn said that their accounts were largely what he remembered — with the exception of him threatening them. He said that he had a number of alcoholic drinks and could not recall it happening.
‘No contract’ to wear mask
During the hearing, Glynn called the trial a “farce” and said that he was in a criminal court for a breach in regulation that had no lawful jurisdiction over him.
“We have no contract where I comply to wearing a mask.”
He also said that the basis of his defence had nothing to do with his actions, but rather that he had not “agreed to this contract” of wearing a face mask and there was “no jurisdiction over him”.
He added that he would wear a mask at work if it was required of him by contract, or within the court, but not while he was out in public.
Calling Senior Staff Sergeant Amirudin “Sherlock Holmes”, Glynn said that if the investigation officer could produce proof that he had signed a contract to wear a mask, he would plead guilty.
Otherwise, he told the court to “drop these unlawful charges against” him and allow him to return to his home country to be reunited with his children — words that made him choke and cry.
At one point during the trial, which was attended by both friends and supporters of Glynn, an unidentified Chinese woman was told by District Judge Tham to leave the court because she was not wearing a mask.
She claimed that her mask was broken, but when told to settle it outside the courtroom, she refused and called herself a “living woman” and that she, too, had no contract with the police.
She shouted at court officers who spoke to her gently and tried to escort her out, and told the judge that she did not respect him and that he was presiding over a “kangaroo court”.
It is not known whether the woman has been detained. TODAY has sought comments from the police and the State Courts.
‘You are not my master’
DPP Koh, who sought a sentence of seven weeks, told the court that Glynn has shown no remorse for his actions and had filed a frivolous defence in court.
Glynn interrupted the prosecutor and again repeated that the courts had no jurisdiction over him.
Labelling Glynn’s behaviour as dangerous to public health and inconsiderate, DPP Koh added that the court needed to send a strong signal in order to discourage other like-minded individuals from believing that such behaviour will be tolerated.
Otherwise, efforts and sacrifices to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus would have been “squandered”, he said.
In response, Glynn said: “I am a man of god and my soul will ascend. It’s scary that there is a total disregard for common law in Singapore. You are not my master and I am not your slave.”
District Judge Tham, who backdated Glynn’s sentence to the date of his remand on July 19, said that the man was “misguided” in thinking that he was above the law, and that the law applies to anyone who steps foot into Singapore.
At the conclusion of his trial, Glynn thanked everyone present in the courtroom for attending and said that he would see them soon.
Anyone who fails to wear a mask without reasonable excuse is liable to be punished with a fine of up to S$10,000 or jailed up to six months or both under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020.
In cases where the individual reoffends, he or she can be fined up to S$20,000 or imprisoned for up to a year or both.
The penalty for being a public nuisance under Section 290 of the Penal Code is a jail term of up to three months, or a fine of up to S$2,000, or both.
Those found guilty of using threatening words towards a public servant can be fined up to S$5,000 or jailed up to a year, or both, under the Protection from Harassment Act. ― TODAY