Ex-teacher sent anonymous abusive letters to school principal after student was killed in accident

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
Sept 19, 2022

Bent on revenge, a former teacher sent anonymous text messages, letters and e-mails to harass the school principal of his previous workplace between 2018 and 2021.

When the offender found out that a student from the principal's school was killed in an accident, he decided to distress his former boss by sending anonymous abusive letters to him.

The offender also sent similar letters to other people, including a church elder and the principals of three other schools, as he wanted them to know how his former boss had purportedly mismanaged issues linked to the student's death.

In unrelated incidents in 2020, the former teacher also sent anonymous text messages to a female lecturer who he felt was "quite high-handed" and unkind when he was one of her students.

The 46-year-old man, who is no longer a teacher and has been a private tutor since 2019, pleaded guilty on Monday to two harassment charges.

Court documents did not disclose how the former teacher was caught.

He cannot be named due to a gag order to protect his victims' identities.

The court heard that he was unhappy with the principal as he disagreed with the man's management style. He also felt that the principal was a difficult boss to work with.

The offender left the school in 2017 and started sending anonymous text messages, letters and e-mails to harass the principal over the next few years.

He later found out about the student's death and blamed the principal for the tragedy.

The offender then decided to send the principal anonymous letters using some National University of Singapore (NUS) envelopes he had found some time before 2018 at the void deck of a block of flats.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhi Hao said: "The accused prepared 20 similar anonymous letters.

"Each letter was enclosed in an official envelope from the (NUS), and contained a note with the following abusive words: 'Heavy is the head which weareth the crown, eyes tainted with guilt, tongue defiled by lies, bloody are thy hands which are stained with a child's blood'."

The principal was also named in each note, with some dates to give the impression that he would die in 2021.

The court heard that the former teacher used the NUS envelopes as he felt that by doing so, the offences would not be easily traced back to him.

On Feb 9, 2021, the former teacher left his Boon Keng flat and travelled to Sengkang, where he used a public phone to make an anonymous call to the principal.

He then told the principal that the man had "blood on (his) hands" before hanging up.

The principal later told a colleague about the call and found out that the school had received multiple anonymous letters. The principal then read one of them, the court heard.

DPP Tan said: "To the (principal), the note read like an epitaph from a tombstone. He was told that the first line of the note was a quote from Shakespeare's Henry IV.

"The last line was a death threat and gave the impression that (he) would die in 2021. As a result, the (principal) felt devastated, scared and threatened."

The principal alerted the police, and he became more cautious whenever he received calls or messages from an unidentified number. He was also worried about his family's safety.

He used to allow his children to go to school on their own. But following the incident, he would ensure that someone accompanies them to and from school.

Meanwhile, the female lecturer whom the former teacher harassed in 2020 received text messages such as one stating: "Your stint (at the school) is testament that those who can't do, teach. But, come to think of it, you can't even teach to save your life."

The woman lodged a police report on April 3, 2020.

The offender is expected to be sentenced on Oct 5.

The Straits Times

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