Briton charged with not wearing mask says he is 'sovereign', remanded at IMH again

·Senior Reporter
·6-min read
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 accused of failing to wear a mask even after he was charged appeared in person for the opening of his trial on Thursday (5 August), where he was then remanded for further psychiatric assessment. 

The assessment is to certify whether he is of sound mind to conduct his defence or plead guilty.

Benjamin Glynn, 39, told District Judge Eddy Tham that he was a “sovereign living man” who had studied “hundreds and thousands” of hours of the law. He also called the case a “sham” and accused the police of abducting and kidnapping him twice, even though, according to him, they did not have legal grounds. Glynn, a married man with two children aged two and four, was remanded on 20 July after he breached bail conditions by reoffending. 

Glynn faces a charge each of not wearing a mask while in an MRT train, causing a public nuisance, threatening police officers who went to his residence, and for failing to wear a mask within and around the State Courts. 

'Lawyer' not called to Singapore bar

Glynn's purported legal counsel, Harun Aminurasyid (Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman), the same man who had accompanied him to his charging, also appeared in court for the trial, but was not allowed to represent Glynn as he was not registered as an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court. 

Harun, who is also Glynn's bailor, told DJ Tham that he was "ambassador-at-large and advocate of the Kingdom Filipina Hacienda in Singapore". Harun further added that he was in court to defend his "sovereign patriot Benjamin Glynn". He added that he had sent a petition or letter to the presiding judge and that he did not need a license to practise law.

However, DJ Tham told Harun that his understanding was not the correct position. Since he was not called to the Singapore bar, Harun had no "locus standi" to represent anyone in Singapore, said the judge who asked him to remain in the audience gallery. 

Though Glynn's trial was slated to begin on Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutors Timotheus Koh and Claudia Chen applied for him to be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for a few weeks, citing a recent letter from family and friends who claimed that Glynn's behaviour has significantly changed.

“The prosecution received a letter from the accused’s family and friends ...(who) report a marked change in behaviour in the accused person that was noticeable especially after the COVID-19 restrictions set in.”

"He has expressed views which he did not previously hold, views that suggest certain leanings towards certain conspiracy theories," said DPP Koh. "And there have also been reports of increasing hostility to family members when they try to gently counsel him regarding his view."

“Given this new information of a change in behaviour... with his behaviour in court today...and his behaviour in past mentions... the prosecution is of the view that it will be prudent to assess the accused to ensure that he is of sound mind and capable of making his defence.”

DPP Koh clarified that this would be a more thorough psychiatric assessment compared to Glynn's previous examination which concluded that he had no mental illness. The DPP added that it had only received the letter from family and friends after Glynn's pre-trial conference on 23 July. 

The prosecution declined to reveal details of the letter in court, but said it had submitted a summary of its contents. "Even without letter, his conduct in court speaks for itself," added DPP Koh. 

Accused said he is 'sovereign' not subject to charges

Replying through his mask, Glynn said," I am wide awake, I research everything... I believe nothing and I know exactly what is going."

He described himself as an "enlightened individual" who felt like he was a PhD law lecturer dealing with a GCE student when speaking with the prosecution. He warned the prosecution against challenging him in matters of the law and denied that he had any mental incapacity. 

"I got sent to Changi Prison for 18 days when the charges did not apply to me because I am a living man, I am sovereign and I am aware of what regulations apply to (commercial arrangements), the only place living men have to wear mask is in their workplace under a contract (of commercial relationships with his employer)," Glynn said.

He alleged that the police had "kidnapped and abducted" him from his house twice, and that he was psychologically and physically "tortured" in prison, though innocent of any crime.  

As to the letter from his family and friends, Glynn said, "(My friends and family) don't understand the law. They think I am going to be found guilty, they think (the letter is) going to reduce my sentence but they do not understand the law like I do, so that is nonsense."

"(The) mask law was dropped across America and Europe... I am well aware of that, I don't get all information from the Straits Times...I can assure u my mind is crystal clear," he said. 

DJ Tham agreed with the prosecution's application. "(Glynn) has alluded to himself not being subject to laws he was charged with...(he) said he is crystal clear in his mind," said the judge.  

"Unfortunately, I cannot merely accept the accused on his assessment and I agree there is reason to suspect that accused may be of unsound mind and this can only be (determined) with thorough examination," the judge said.

Glynn vehemently objected to the remand and said that he was "disgusted" with the "preposterous" proceedings as he was taken away. A woman in the audience clapped loudly at this instance and was told by DJ Tham to maintain court decorum before she was escorted out. 

He will return to court on 19 August. 

If convicted of the offence of causing public nuisance, Glynn faces a jail term of up to three months, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

If convicted of contravening the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, he faces a jail term of up to six months, or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Those found guilty of using threatening words towards a public servant under the Protection from Harassment Act can be jailed up to 12 months, or fined up to $5,000, or both.

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