|www.corpun.com : Archive : 2013 : SG Judicial Nov 2013|
Corpun file 24888 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 2 November 2013, p.B23
Orchard Cineleisure attack
Jail, caning for beating up 2 men
One victim hospitalised for more than a month after violent assault
By Elena Chong
A CLEANER whose brutal assault on two men outside Cathay Cineleisure Orchard left one of the victims hospitalised for more than a month was sentenced to jail and caning yesterday.
District Judge Mathew Joseph said the assault by Lukman Nurhakim M. Thamrin was "made heinous by the thuggish conduct of the accused and the grave seriousness of the injuries suffered especially by the first victim".
Lukman, 23, who had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of causing grievous hurt and causing hurt, was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane.
One of the two victims, salesman Muhammad Safuan Mohamed Nasil, 23, did not even know Lukman at the time of the assault. He was warded in hospital for 42 days as a result of his severe injuries.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana said Lukman was outside the Grange Road mall on Dec 27 last year when he spotted Mr Muhammad Hanafi Sanif, 22, and confronted him. Lukman accused Mr Hanafi of bad-mouthing a friend, but Mr Hanafi denied this.
Without provocation, Lukman punched Mr Hanafi in the face and the victim fell immediately.
On seeing this, Mr Safuan, a friend of Mr Hanafi, rushed forward. He was also attacked by Lukman and fell to the ground unconscious.
When Mr Hanafi tried to get up, Lukman punched him again, causing him to lose consciousness as well.
Lukman then went back to Mr Safuan, grabbed him by the shoulders and slammed him onto the ground forcefully. He then fled from the scene.
As a result of the attack, Mr Safuan now has a permanent scar at the back of his head. According to a statement, Mr Safuan, who had to undergo physiotherapy, said he now fears going out. He also has difficulty remembering things and his mind often goes blank.
Mr Hanafi's injuries were less serious and he was given a day's medical leave.
The judge said Lukman had a propensity for violence and had re-offended barely two years after his release from the Reformative Training Centre for rioting and causing hurt with a dangerous weapon.
"This court has a duty to protect the right of members of the public to walk our streets in safety and without fear of unprovoked assault," he added.
A third charge of burglary, which was considered during his sentencing, was committed when Lukman was out on bail for his assault offences.
Corpun file 24892 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 14 November 2013, p.B7
Man spared death penalty for murder of taxi driver
Chinese national's sentence changed to life in prison, 24 strokes instead
By Selina Lum
HE WAS originally set to hang for murdering a taxi driver.
But Chinese national Wang Wenfeng was shedding tears of relief yesterday when he was given life in prison and 24 strokes of the cane instead.
The 35-year-old, who is married with a 10-year-old daughter, is the fifth murderer on death row to be re-sentenced after judges were given the discretion this year to impose either the death penalty or life imprisonment in certain categories of murder.
All five cases resulted in the death sentences -- mandatory previously -- being commuted to a life term and caning.
Yesterday, Chief Prosecutor Bala Reddy pressed for Wang to be sentenced to death, arguing that he had committed a pre-meditated murder in cold blood.
Citing statistics of crimes against taxi and bus drivers, he argued that there was a need to deter violent crimes against public transport workers.
Wang's lawyer, Mr Wendell Wong, argued that this was a case of a botched robbery and that the death penalty should be reserved for the most heinous cases.
Justice Lee Seiu Kin concluded that "the ends of justice" are served by a life term and 24 strokes -- the maximum he can impose, short of hanging.
The judge said it was one thing to impose a higher fine or longer jail term as a deterrent but quite another to say that a death sentence was necessary and appropriate when life imprisonment was an option.
Justice Lee said that while there have been cases of serious hurt to cabbies in the past five years, the statistics did not show an increasing trend.
In the early hours of April 11, 2009, Wang got into the taxi driven by 58-year-old Yuen Swee Hong, with a plan to rob him.
The odd-job worker was desperate for money as he could not find work at the time, while his mother suffered from stomach cancer.
He directed the cabby to a deserted road in Sembawang.
Before arriving at the destination, Wang put on gloves, and with knife in hand, positioned himself behind the driver.
Once the taxi stopped, he demanded money. A struggle ensued, and the cabby was stabbed.
Wang carried Mr Yuen's body into a forested area and left it there after taking money from his pocket. He then drove the taxi to a multi-storey carpark.
When Mr Yuen's widow called his mobile phone, Wang led her to believe that her husband was still alive and tried to extort a $150,000 ransom.
He was arrested at People's Park Complex two days later when he was collecting his air ticket to go home.
Corpun file 24951 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 15 November 2013, p.A2
Drug courier spared the gallows
Malaysian re-sentenced to life term and 15 strokes after four-year battle
By Selina Lum
AFTER a four-year fight and a string of unsuccessful bids to challenge his death sentence for drug trafficking, Yong Vui Kong was finally spared the gallows.
The High Court yesterday re-sentenced the Malaysian, who was 19 when he was arrested six years ago, to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane.
This followed changes to the law this year which give judges the discretion to impose life terms and caning, instead of the previously mandatory death penalty, for drug couriers who help the authorities in a substantive way.
Yong was certified to have substantively assisted in disrupting drug-trafficking activities. Now 25, he is the first convicted drug offender awaiting capital punishment to be spared the noose under the new law.
Yesterday, Justice Choo Han Teck said he was satisfied that the requirements of the amended law applied to Yong and that he only acted as a courier.
The thinly-built man, who has been in prison since his arrest in 2007, was solemn yesterday as he received his new sentence in a packed courtroom.
Yong's life sentence was backdated to the day he was charged in June 2007. A life sentence in Singapore lasts for a person's natural life, but he is eligible for a review of his sentence after he serves 20 years in jail.
His case had attracted the attention of human rights activists and was widely reported by the media here and in Malaysia. His family and supporters, including a Member of Parliament from his home state of Sabah, had also presented a petition for clemency to the President bearing more than 100,000 signatures.
It took a dramatic twist in 2009 when lawyer M. Ravi -- four days before Yong was due to be hanged -- filed an eleventh-hour motion to revive the appeal that Yong had dropped. Mr Ravi's subsequent attempts in court to overturn the death sentence eventually failed, but as a result of the numerous challenges, Yong lived to see changes in the law that spared him a date with the hangman.
Outside court yesterday, Yong's older brothers, Mr Yun Leong, 28, and Mr Yun Chung, 27, who work here as chefs, were surrounded by reporters. Mr Yun Leong described yesterday's outcome as a "miracle", adding that he could finally heave a sigh of relief.
"If we had not fought the case, he would have been hanged four years ago," he said in Mandarin. He said Yong, the sixth of seven siblings, was learning English in prison and hoped to counsel youth about the dangers of drugs while serving time in jail.
Mr Yun Leong said that their mother in Sabah only knew that Yong was in prison and did not know he had been sentenced to hang. So he would not be telling her about the latest development.
Yong was 19 years old when he entered Singapore in a vehicle driven by a friend. They were arrested by anti-narcotics officers who tailed them as Yong delivered drugs to two customers. Two bundles found in the car were analysed to contain 47.27g of heroin. Yong told investigators his friend was not involved with the drugs.
He was eventually convicted in November 2008 and given the death penalty. He filed an appeal but later withdrew it, saying that he had become a Buddhist and did not want to lie. But he changed his mind and restored his appeal on the grounds that the mandatory death penalty was unconstitutional. The appeal was dismissed.
He then applied for judicial review of clemency proceedings in July 2010, with Mr Ravi arguing that it is the President, not the Cabinet, who has the power to decide whether or not to grant clemency to someone on death row. The High Court, and later, the Court of Appeal, disagreed.
In July 2011, the Government began a review of the death penalty laws and Yong was among the 35 death-row inmates whose hangings were put on hold.
In March last year, Yong made a third attempt before the Court of Appeal to quash his death sentence, arguing that his constitutional right to equal protection by the law had been violated.
This was because Singaporean Chia Choon Leng, who allegedly asked Yong to deliver the drugs, had the charges against him withdrawn. Chia is now being held under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, which allows the detention of suspects without trial. The Court of Appeal dismissed Yong's case.
Yesterday, his two brothers, their former MP Chua Soon Bui from Sabah, Mr Ravi, and others gathered at a restaurant in Circular Road. Madam Chua said she was buying them a "celebration" dinner.
She also bought an English dictionary for Yong, to help him with his learning of the language while in prison.
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