SINGAPORE: A woman accused of harassment after she repeatedly poured soapy water from her unit into her neighbour’s told the court on Friday (Jul 9) that she was simply cleaning her neighbour’s dirty roof.
Lee Soh Geok is contesting three charges, under the Protection from Harassment Act, of harassing her neighbour Helen Lim Hai Loon between Jan 29, 2019 and May 22, 2020.
Mdm Lim mounted a private prosecution against Lee after filing 12 police reports over one-and-a-half years but purportedly being told that the police would not prosecute Lee.
Lee, who lives with her mother at Citylife @ Tampines condominium, is accused of deliberately pouring water from her second-floor unit onto the roof extension of Mdm Lim’s home.
She is also accused of deliberately bouncing a ball and causing unreasonable noise from her apartment. She allegedly bounced a basketball several times a day, up to 45 minutes on one occasion.
Videos taken by Mdm Lim showed her pouring the water at different times of the day, including in the wee hours. The residue flowed down the roof and into Mdm Lim’s home.
Lee told the court she did this because she wanted to clean the dirty roof, which her neighbour had not bothered to clean despite being required to do so.
Lee, who is defending herself, took the stand and was cross-examined by Mdm Lim’s lawyer Luke Lee on Friday.
The court heard that the issue arose after Lee sought various orders against the condo’s management, asking them to remove the fixed awnings and replace them with retractable ones.
The fixed awnings were placed on patios and extended from the roof of Mdm Lim’s unit, or the bottom of Lee’s balcony. Lee failed in her attempts to have the awnings replaced, with the board finding that it would be disproportionate to ask ground-floor owners to replace fixed awnings with retractable ones, as the fixed awnings had been in place since 2016.
She had also asked for the patio owners to bear the cost of thrice-weekly cleaning of the roofs, which was quoted at S$600 per unit per washing.
The lawyer charged that Lee was unhappy with the judgment and that this formed her motive for pouring the water. He pointed out that Lee kept up her behaviour with the water and the ball despite Mdm Lim’s husband pleading with her to stop, saying she therefore intended to harass her neighbour.
Lee strongly denied this and repeatedly claimed that the roof was very dirty and hot as it was metallic.
DIRTY ROOF “A NIGHTMARE”: LEE
Mdm Lim’s lawyer showed Lee a photo and asked if she agreed it depicted a clean roof.
“A clean roof is because the person above has been cleaning it on a weekly basis, twice to thrice weekly basis,” answered Lee. “I have actually collected (bird) shit, I wanted to bring it to you.”
Lee said that the photo had been taken at an angle that did not show the dirt and that to see the dirt, one would have to look out from her unit.
She also disagreed that she had poured the water to harass the family downstairs, saying that water costs money and she would not waste money on something not essential.
“The dirt is … a nightmare to me,” she said, adding that the issue with the water entering Mdm Lim’s home was due to gravity and thus “beyond” her.
When the lawyer asked why she had to pour the water even at 1am, 3am and 5am, Lee said she was merely making the effort to time her actions for when nobody was around.
Video evidence, however, showed she turned off the lights after pouring the water instead of supervising the situation, the lawyer pointed out, to which she replied “what rubbish are you talking about”.
Mdm Lim’s lawyer said Mdm Lim’s husband invited Lee to their home in 2016 or 2017 to discuss the issue, but Lee persisted with her behaviour.
In reply, Lee said the responsibility for cleaning the roof was his yet he ignored it.
“You deny me proper cleaning, you mess up my area where I rest and work. This is my balcony that I pay for,” she said.
As for the bouncing of the ball, Lee argued that the balcony was a suitable place to do it but denied bouncing the ball for 45 minutes straight – something she did not have the stamina for.
Lee closed her case on Friday. The judge ordered both sides to make written submissions and adjourned the case to September for a verdict.
If convicted of using abusive behaviour, Lee could be fined up to S$5,000 per charge.