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Judicial CP - March 2006
Corpun file 17440 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 3 March 2006
Jail and caning for attacking matchmaker
Failed foreign bride deal sparked assault
By Elena Chong
A MAN who attacked a security guard with a knife after a deal to bring in a foreign bride for him went sour was sentenced to two years in jail and eight strokes of the cane yesterday.
Security guard Lee Teong Boon, 38, had promised Wong Heng San, 33, that he would arrange for a relative from Indonesia to come to Singapore to marry him.
After incurring expenses to bring the woman here, Wong discovered he could not marry her because she was under 21. Under the law, anyone under 21 who wants to get married needs written consent of parents or guardians, so the girl was sent back to Indonesia.
Believing he had been fooled, Wong tried for some time to talk to Mr Lee and settle the matter amicably.
But on Jan 29 this year, he took the law into his own hands when he and a friend confronted Mr Lee with a chopper and a kitchen knife at Block 109, Aljunied Crescent.
When the two men met Mr Lee behind the block, Wong started talking about the failed matchmaking deal, but Mr Lee ignored him and told him to sort out the matter himself.
Infuriated, Wong lashed out at Mr Lee with the knife, injuring his right shoulder.
Wong's friend, 47-year-old Sim Kew Beng, then swung the chopper at Mr Lee as he tried to run away.
Mr Lee used his right hand to block the blow and fled.
He suffered a 7cm-long cut on the right forearm and two superficial cuts on the right wrist and shoulder.
Wong and Sim, who were arrested on Feb 2, pleaded guilty to hurting Mr Lee.
Wong has previous convictions for property-related offences.
Sim admitted another charge of breaching a personal protection order on Oct 23 last year, when he came home drunk and brandished a knife at his 13-year-old son, telling him it could kill the whole family.
District Judge Bala Reddy postponed sentence on Sim pending corrective training and preventive detention reports on the man who has previous convictions, all involving violent offences.
Sim was remanded until March 23.
Corpun file 17461 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 10 March 2006
Stiffer punishment for man who raped mentally retarded teen
By Elena Chong
AN UNEMPLOYED man who molested and raped a mentally retarded teen failed to persuade a judge to impose a jail sentence on him yesterday.
Instead, Ng Beng Kiong was handed down a stiffer punishment - seven years' corrective training and 12 strokes of the cane.
Ng, 35, pleaded guilty to two charges of abusing the 16-year-old girl at her home in February last year.
He has a long criminal record from 1988 to 2003, for offences ranging from armed robbery to distributing uncensored films.
The main purpose of corrective training is to turn an offender from a life of crime by putting him through a 'regime of discipline' and teaching him work skills.
Ng's lawyer urged the court to impose a jail sentence so that Ng could come out within a reasonable time to be reunited with his elderly parents and four-year-old son, abandoned by his former fiancee.
But the court heard that he molested and raped the girl within months of his release from a two-year sentence for a series of offences, including criminal intimidation.
When he learnt that the police were looking for him for the sexual abuses, he went into hiding for five months. He was arrested during a spot check at Punggol Park on Aug 17 last year.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong told District Judge Tan Boon Gin that Ng met the girl and her mother, who is also retarded, when the 44-year-old woman was collecting used cans for sale.
Subsequently, Ng went to their flat in the mornings with coffee and breakfast and rested there.
Ng believed the mother was 'a bit mad' and the girl's IQ was low, said the DPP.
On one occasion, in February last year, Ng followed the girl into the kitchen toilet and molested her on the pretext of helping to bathe her. On another day, Ng raped her when her mother had left them alone in the flat.
The victim was neither capable of giving consent nor did she stop Ng from carrying out the acts because she is retarded.
Two other charges of rape and unnatural sex were taken into consideration.
Pleading for one last chance, lawyer Shashi Nathan said his client was sorry for what he had done. He had also become a devout Christian during his remand.
But DPP Ong, who had initially sought preventive detention, said the offences were highly aggravated as Ng had taken advantage of the mental disabilities of the victim and her mother.
He argued that people needed to be protected from Ng's criminal tendencies, revealed by his own psychiatric history. Ng was diagnosed in 2002 to have an 'anti-social personality disorder'.
Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
Corpun file 17460 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 10 March 2006
Loan shark gets 10 strokes of the cane, 21 months in jail
First loan shark to be caned under tough new law; benchmark for future cases
By Tanya Fong and Dawn Lim
A 32-YEAR-OLD loan shark will soon receive 10 strokes of the cane.
Tan T.W. yesterday became the first in the business to be punished under the beefed-up Moneylenders' Act, which has, since last November, carried compulsory caning as a penalty.
He was also slapped with a 21-month jail term following his conviction on one count of theft and five counts of illegal moneylending.
This cane-and-jail sentence is likely to set the benchmark for future cases, say those in the legal circles.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng told Parliament last week that seven loan sharks have been charged since the Moneylenders' Act was given more teeth.
The police have carried out three major swoops since last November. In all, they have arrested 26 suspected loan sharks and seized $170,000 in cash.
Tan was arrested on Feb 8 in the Sembawang Drive neighbourhood. At that time, he was with another loan shark, Benjamin Lim Kuan Seng, 30.
The pair had been busy with usual loan shark activity: They had just scribbled, with bold black marker pens, 'O$P$' -- the loan shark's shorthand for 'owe money, pay money' -- on the walls of the debtor's staircase landing in Block 478, Sembawang Drive. Along with this graffiti, they also scrawled the unit number of the debtor and a mobile number of a loan shark called 'Tiger'.
Earlier, they had poured black paint on the debtor's door and locked up the metal gate with a green bicycle chain.
When Tan spotted some police officers on patrol, checking motorcycles near Block 470, he panicked and bolted with Lim.
The police officers gave chase and arrested the pair. A blue diary listing debtors' contact details was found on Tan.
Further investigations showed that the duo -- who worked for a loan shark syndicate code-named 'Bobby' -- had harassed three other debtors in Ang Mo Kio the day before.
Their first 'hit' had been in Block 504, Hougang Avenue 8 at about 3am. They harassed a second debtor at Block 546, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 at 7pm and the third, in Block 648, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 just half an hour later.
Their modus operandi had been the same: They defaced the walls with demands for payment and splashed black paint on the debtors' doors at all the three stops they made.
During police interrogation, Tan admitted to stealing a black motorcycle helmet at a multi-storey carpark in Block 481A, Sembawang Drive on the day he was arrested with Lim.
Tan had pleaded guilty to all six charges.
His sidekick Lim will have his case heard in court on March 21.
Under the tougher laws, first-time illegal moneylenders can be fined up to $200,000, and jailed up to two years. Repeat offenders will be fined the same amount but jailed for five years.
Previously, fines for first-time offenders started at $10,000; the maximum was $100,000 - half the current fine. Repeat offenders could be fined between $20,000 and $200,000, or jailed up to a year, or both.
The new law has a provision against the individual whose bank account or ATM card has been proven to be used in the collection of debts by a loan shark. These individuals are presumed to have helped in the carrying out of the offences.
The new law has also been designed to deal with loan sharks who damage their debtors' property. They can be fined up to $40,000, jailed up to three years and caned up to four strokes. Second or subsequent convictions will bring mandatory caning, up to a maximum of six strokes.
Those who cause hurt face the same maximum fine and jail terms. In addition, they can also be caned up to six strokes. Repeat offenders face mandatory caning, up to 12 strokes.
Previously, illegal moneylenders found guilty of harassing or intimidating anyone into repaying loans were fined between $2,000 and $20,000, jailed up to a year, or both.
If hurt was caused in either illegal moneylending or harassment, the offender could also be caned up to six times.
Last December, about two weeks after the penalties were made harsher, a 32-year-old housewife who was just four weeks into a pregnancy lost her baby after she fell down a flight of stairs.
A fleeing loan shark pushed her in his haste after she ticked him off for harassing the wrong debtor and threatened to call the police.
Corpun file 17549 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 30 March 2006
Loan shark's runner gets jail, caning
By Elena Chong
AN UNEMPLOYED man who harassed debtors on behalf of an illegal moneylending ring was yesterday sentenced to a total of 21 months' jail and eight strokes of the cane.
Benjamin Lim Kuan Seng, 30, admitted to four counts of annoying debtors and their families in Ang Mo Kio, Yishun and Sembawang early last month.
He also pleaded guilty to possessing and consuming drugs on Feb 8 at the time he was arrested by the police along with his accomplice, Tan T.W., in Sembawang Drive.
Tan, 32, is now paying the price with a sentence of 21 months' jail and 10 strokes of the cane after having pleaded guilty earlier this month to five similar charges and one of theft. He was the first to be caned under the enhanced Moneylenders Act.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Benjamin Yim said Lim was to be paid $3,000 a month for being a 'runner' for the illegal moneylending syndicate codenamed 'Bobby'.
On Feb 8, Tan and Lim scribbled, with bold black marker pens, 'O$P$' -- the loan shark's shorthand for 'owe money, pay money' -- on the walls of a debtor's staircase landing in Block 478, Sembawang Drive.
Along with this graffiti, they scrawled the debtor's unit number and the contact number of a loan shark nicknamed 'Tiger'.
The duo also poured black paint on the debtor's door and locked up his metal gate with a green bicycle chain.
The previous evening, the pair had gone to two flats in Ang Mo Kio to harass debtors. There, they defaced the walls of the staircase landings near the debtors' homes with 'O$P$' and splashed black paint on their doors. Less than two hours later, they were at it again at another debtor's Yishun flat.
DPP Yim said that when Lim was arrested, he was found with a tablet wrapped in red foil, which was later analysed to be the sedative, nimetazepam, which is a controlled drug. His urine specimens tested positive for it.
Four other charges were taken into consideration against Lim, who has previous convictions for cheating, abetment of cheating and attempted cheating, forgery and theft.
His lawyer, Mr Ranjit Singh, told District Judge Roy Neighbour that the part-time real estate and insurance agent had financial problems, so he and Tan took to harassing debtors to make some money. He said Lim was very sorry for what he had done.
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