Benjamin Glynn jailed 6 weeks after claiming 'God-given rights' as defence

Benjamin Glynn entering the State Courts on 2 July 2021. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Wan Ting Koh))
Benjamin Glynn entering the State Courts on 2 July 2021. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Wan Ting Koh)

SINGAPORE — A British expatriate who was filmed on an MRT train without a mask was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Wednesday (18 August) after he was found guilty of the charges of failing to wear a mask on two separate occasions, causing public nuisance and using threatening words on public officers during a one-day trial.

Benjamin Glynn's jail sentence is backdated to 19 July, when he was first remanded.

Earlier in the day, Glynn gave his defence, with the 40-year-old’s voice breaking when he asked the court to let him return to his country and children.

Glynn, who had accused the police of unlawfully detaining and kidnapping him, said that he was facing mental duress when he was in remand, and while he was being assessed at the Institute of Mental Health.

“In the last three months I have been psychologically and emotionally tortured, especially the last 33 days in a prison cell. Please drop the unlawful charges against me, return my stolen passport and return me to my home country (so that I can) finally be reunited with my two kids,” said Glynn in an emotional voice.

Glynn was convicted of all four charges by District Judge Eddy Tham of not wearing a mask while in an MRT train on 7 May, causing public nuisance on 7 May, threatening police officers who went to his residence on 8 and 9 May, and failing to wear a mask within and in the vicinity of the State Courts on 2 July.

Earlier in the afternoon, when asked to testify in his defence, Glynn denied adopting a boxing stance or using threatening words on police officers who went to his condominium along Holland Road on 8 to 9 May.

“As I said before I can’t particular remember the boxing stance details at all and I asked for evidence of that as in a recorded video of it. I understand that there is no recorded video. The only thing I will say is that I was very courteous and friendly. I was happy to talk to them…it’s when they (arrested and tried) taking me away from my family…I had major issues with them dragging me out at night over regulation breach,” he said.

Glynn told the court that before the incident, he had been drinking while celebrating his daughter's fifth birthday.

“I was pretty drunk…I would be very surprised if I did something like that, I remember wanting to go back upstairs… I ran (as) I was scared for my life. I really panicked, as you would if the police started hitting you with a baton,” he added. The two police officers who effected the arrest testified earlier on Wednesday that a baton was used on Glynn after he got agitated and actively resisted arrest.

The officers testified that Glynn had told them, "I am going to f**king drop you" and adopted a boxing stance that night.

“I was pretty sleepy, confused and scared,” Glynn said. He added that when the two police officers rang his doorbell around midnight, he thought something terrible had happened to his family members.

“I thought my mom or dad or sister or one of them had died, when I spoke to them initially that was my first thought… I was relieved (when they told me about the incident).”

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Timotheus Koh if it was possible he threatened the officers, Glynn replied that anything was possible “in this world”, but he denied the offence.

As to the incidents in the MRT and in or around the State Courts, Glynn said he “did not deny” that he was the one captured in CCTV footage.

“The basis of defence has nothing to do with my actions. The basis of my defence is the fact that I understand and studied the law, I understand trust law, contract law, tort law, I have studied this for quite a long time. It is not difficult to understand common law. I know what a crime is, there must be a victim which is a living man or woman, not a legal fiction which is what you are, officers. You are not living men and women, they are legal fictions. I am living man, I control my public trust,” he said.

“So therefore I do not consent to this maritime contract, I have not agreed to (a) contract and they have no jurisdiction over me, it's fairly simple.

“The police completely ignored me… I am not, I am enlightened and awakened and very educated man and I know my rights and God-given rights that no person, be it legal fiction living man or woman, can interfere in and that is what I am standing up for my kids, so they do not have to cover their face.”

He added that the only place one has to wear a mask is at the workplace, subject to a contract by an employer who pays a salary, or if the owner of a residence he visits requires so.

“We have no contract. This is commerce, this is lowest form of law there is. I am a man of God, I answer to God, I will not cause damage or harm to man or property, that is how I will live my life,” he said. He pointed to examples in the US and Europe, adding that the mask rules were dropped because of “someone like me” standing up against the rules.

“If people want to wear it I am happy for them but I do not wish to cover my face… I do not wish to breathe my own recycled carbon dioxide, I like to breathe oxygen.”

Referring to Glynn's understanding of the law, DJ Tham said, "I find that he is completely misguided on such beliefs, the COVID-19 legislations were passed under our law by Singapore's Parliament and will apply to anyone who sets foot here."

DJ Tham also described Glynn's defence that could not remember threatening the officers as "woefully insufficient to raise a reasonable doubt".

DPP Koh then submitted for seven weeks' jail for Glynn, citing Glynn's continued defiance as an aggravating factor.

"Moments after his release on bail with a condition that required him not to commit offence while released on bail, it appears that he wasted little time in demonstrating his defiance because he pulled down his mask seconds after he stepped out of Court 4B and removed it entirely moments after he steps out of the State Courts building," said DPP Koh.

He added that Glynn's actions were a danger to public health, and would encourage like-minded individuals.

When asked to mitigate, Glynn said, “Just to say I’m a man of God. No man puts any fear into me. My soul ….hopefully I will be in the book of life and (it is) scary how (there is) this total disregard for common law in Singapore because you are not my master and I am not your slave."

Sentencing Glynn, DJ Tham said that he agreed with the prosecution that deterrence should be the foremost sentencing principle.

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