Teen who did backflip in rhino pen also killed frog, consumed cannabis and cut off his electronic tag

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
November 25, 2021

A youth caught on video doing a backflip inside the white rhinoceros enclosure at the Singapore Zoo committed the offence after watching a viral clip of a man riding a giraffe, a district court heard on Thursday (Nov 25).

Home-schooled student Ralph Wee Yi Kai decided to create a viral video himself and post it on his own TikTok account. He performed the backflip on Dec 17 last year.

The 19-year-old Singaporean, who appeared in court via video-link on Thursday, pleaded guilty to eight charges for offences including mischief, criminal trespass and drug consumption.

He started his crime spree in October last year after going to a friend's house in Sixth Crescent near Bukit Timah Road to talk about his problems, which were not disclosed in court documents.

Feeling increasingly emotional, Wee left his friend's home on Oct 9 last year. He then went to a nearby bus stop around 2.40am where he kicked an information panel, causing $900 in damage.

A taxi driver spotted Wee committing the offence and alerted the police. Wee was walking back to his friend's home when he kicked the side mirrors of a parked Mercedes Benz car, causing nearly $2,800 in damage.

On Dec 17 last year, he went to the Singapore Zoo, entered the rhinoceros pen and performed the backflip while a girl recorded him.

The police, who were alerted to the case around 5.40pm that day, had earlier said: "Preliminary investigations revealed that the man's companion... filmed him before the man posted the video on his TikTok account, using the moniker @ralphwee_.

"Through investigations, officers from Woodlands Police Division established the identities of the man and woman on the same evening."

The police later issued the 18-year-old girl a stern warning for abetting criminal trespass.

Wee was at a friend's home in Ocean Drive at Sentosa Cove a week later on Dec 24 when he placed a frog on a foosball table.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Lee said he then directed a ball "at high speed and force" towards the frog and it died soon after.

One of his friends filmed the incident and the clip was posted on social media. Wee later cut the dead frog and threw its carcass into a canal.

A screenshot of the incident showing three teens unboxing live frogs and playing foosball with a frog on the table. PHOTO: 取自/INSTAGRAM

He appeared in court for the first time in July this year and was charged with two counts of mischief, as well as one count each of vandalism and criminal trespass.

He was out on bail of $15,000 when he consumed cannabis the following month.

Wee was at the Institute of Mental Health on Sept 14 when three police officers showed up to arrest him over his failure to turn up in court.

They then found that he had six pieces of e-cigarette pods in his possession. Wee was later placed back in remand.

A TikTok video shows Ralph Wee Yi Kai doing a backflip in the rhino enclosure before running out. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

On Oct 13, he appeared in court via video link and was charged with one count of drug consumption. He was later released on bail of $20,000.

Instead of keeping out of trouble, he failed to turn up for his urine test on four occasions last month.

After an argument with his father, Wee used a pair of pliers to cut off his electronic tag on Oct 26 and cycled to a friend's home. Wee's father alerted the police when he could not locate his son.

Wee was placed back in remand after he failed to turn up in court on Nov 5.

On Thursday, DPP Lee urged the court to call for a report to assess the teenager's suitability for reformative training.

Offenders given it are detained in a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.

DPP Lee said that Wee had "demonstrated blatant disregard for rules", adding: "The accused has a tendency to abuse drugs and other substances such as alcohol, which caused the accused to act aggressively towards his parents when he demanded drugs from them.

"Probation is certainly not a viable option in the light of the accused's history of drug abuse and aggressive behaviour towards his parents who would be expected to be the accused's main supervisors during the probation period.

"Simply put, the accused is beyond the control of his parents, which renders probation unsuitable for the accused."

Defence lawyer Shashi Nathan, however, urged District Judge May Mesenas to call for reports to assess his client's suitability for both probation and reformative training so that the court has a "full spectrum of options available".

Judge Mesenas called for both reports on Thursday. Wee will be sentenced on Dec 20.

The Straits Times

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