3 men charged over New Year's Eve gathering at Clarke Quay to plead guilty

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3 men charged over New Year's Eve gathering at Clarke Quay to plead guilty

SINGAPORE — Three of the four men who were previously charged for COVID-19 breaches at Clarke Quay on New Year’s Day, including one who was wearing a Spider-Man costume, indicated on Tuesday (8 February) that they would be pleading guilty to their charges.

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Verma Pulkit, Kotra Venkata Sai Rohankrishna and Harjaz Singh, told the court of their intention while William Alexander Brooks-Potts has not instructed his lawyer regarding his plea.

The four men, aged between 19 and 22, were first charged on 25 January with breaching COVID-19 safe management measures on 1 January this year. Each were given two charges: for failing to wear a mask over their noses and mouths while in the same area at the same time, and for failing to keep a safe distance of at least one metre from other individuals while in a public place.

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Kotra faced an additional charge of attending a gathering while dressed in a Spider-Man costume. He is said to have attended the gathering with three others, and interacted with about 20 other individuals to record video interviews and take photographs.

On Tuesday, Pulkit and Singh were also handed one fresh charge each for attending gatherings near Read Bridge outside Riverside Point on the same day. Pulkit is said to have gathered with eight others, while Singh allegedly gathered with at least six others to celebrate the new year.

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Pulkit, Singh and Kotra now face three charges each, while Brooks-Potts faces two.

Kotra’s lawyer asked for time to make representations to the prosecutors, who said that no composition will be offered in this case.

Singh and Pulkit – both of whom are unrepresented – said they wanted to plead guilty and were asked to prepare their mitigation pleas for the next hearing.

Brooks-Potts, who was represented by lawyer Laura Yeo, did not indicate a plea. Yeo told the court that she had only taken instructions from her client to make representations to the prosecution. The lawyer was asked to indicate his client’s intended course of action at the next hearing.

All four cases will be heard in court again on 8 March.

If convicted, each man can be jailed up to six months, and/or fined up to $10,000.

The New Year’s day celebration saw a crowd at Clarke Quay that grew too large for police officers at the scene to control.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on COVID-19 (MTF), later said that enforcement agencies were combing through CCTV footage of the spontaneous gathering at Clarke Quay, and different individuals were called in for “interviews”.

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