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Judicial CP - October 1999

Straits Times, Singapore, 2 October 1999

Boy, 14, gets 5 years' jail, cane



A TEENAGE boy who kicked and robbed an elderly man, with two young relatives, was sentenced yesterday to five years' jail and ordered to be caned 10 strokes.

Mr Teo Sak Loke, 71, a former hawker, died in Bukit Merah View hours after he was attacked. When he was kicked in the back, he hit a joss paper bin and a metal partition and fell.

His 14-year-old assailant cried before and during the hearing. He, his 13-year-old niece and her 13-year-old boy cousin, were all found unsuitable for probation.

Afterwards, outside the court building, the boy's mother lashed out at her daughter, who is the mother of the 13-year-old girl, and had to be restrained.

She accused her of ruining the teenagers' lives and instigating them to rob the man. Police had to separate the warring family members.

The teens had been charged with murder at first. They pleaded guilty last month to robbing Mr Teo of $440 and seriously hurting him on March 7. The court had called for pre-sentence reports.

Sentencing them yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Tay Yong Kwang said the 14-year-old had not been receptive to rehabilitation during an earlier two-year stay at an approved school.

The other boy was ordered to spend two years in an approved school, and the girl, three years. Their sentences were backdated to March 8. Mr Teo had been drunk at the time. The girl had asked him for money. She joined the boys in teasing and bothering him. He gave her $10 but refused to give the boys any. He scolded them and chased them around the mailboxes.

Later, the older boy, then six days shy of 14, kicked Mr Teo in the back, causing him to knock against the bin and hit the metal partition before falling.

On seeing him motionless, the younger pair fled. The older boy waited a while then returned to their flat and asked the pair if they would go with him to take Mr Teo's money.

The girl said she wanted a share of it. So she acted as lookout while he took $440 from Mr Teo's trousers.

The prosecution said the 14-year-old should be jailed as he was of "so unruly a character that he cannot be detained in a place of detention or an approved school".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Janet Wang said he had planned the robbery, instigated the others, taunted and kicked the old man, and then had the audacity to return to rob him.

The statistics, said the DPP, showed a disturbing 14.7 per cent rise in violent property crimes among juveniles, in particular robbery, from 68 cases in 1997 to 78 last year. Up to June this year, there had been 20 reported.

"The accused had committed the offence in the most appalling and reprehensible manner. He is a 'social monster in the rearing'," she added.

The older boy's counsel, Mr Wee Pan Lee, said the "already reared social monsters" in this case were three adults, including his client's 36-year-old sister, who had encouraged the children to ask Mr Teo for money.

He said that two adult bystanders, a man and a woman, had watched the children teasing Mr Teo.

Copyright 1999 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

Straits Times, Singapore, 7 October 1999

5 robbers get jail and caning

A GANG of eight robbers slashed a canteen owner's knee and hand and robbed her of $10,400 in cash and property.

A district court heard yesterday that on Aug 7, the men, all Indian nationals, had conspired to rob the Sungei Kadut Eating House at 55, Sungei Kadut Street.

At about 12.15 am, the gang, seven of whom are illegal immigrants, took taxis to a bus-stop near the canteen.

One went into the canteen and bought some beer.

When he came back, he informed his accomplices that there were no customers and it was about to close.

The robbers, one armed with a parang, then went into the compound of the canteen and attacked Madam Daisy Loh, 44, who runs it.

They also robbed her of $10,000 in cash and $400 worth of phone cards which she had kept in a handbag.

One of the robbers then shouted for them to flee.

Seven of the robbers had also robbed a petrol station at Mandai Road on Aug 4. Armed with wooden poles, they attacked the staff and robbed them of $2,661 -- the day's earnings.

Yesterday, Suppiah Ramalingam, 36; Balu Ramasamy, 25; Vengadesan Namasivayam, 34, and Mahalingam Sithambaram, 42, were each jailed for 12 years and one month, and ordered to be caned 24 strokes, both for gang robbery with hurt and entering Singapore illegally.

Muthusamy Kannan, 32, was jailed six years and ordered to be caned 12 strokes for his involvement in the Sungei Kadut robbery.

The other three men are still at large.

Copyright 1999 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

The New Paper, Singapore, 18 October 1999

He was more loyal to friends than to mum

My son will do things without thinking of the consequences.
I kept scolding him, why are you so stupid, your future or your friends important?

- Polytechnic student Ang Chee Kian's mother

Although he was playful, he always produced results.
He was very good in physics, and he was willing to sacrifice his time to teach me and his other classmates.

- Former schoolmate Anabelle Tan, 18.

18-year-old gets 24 strokes of the cane

FRIENDS meant more to this teenager than his own family.
Polytechnic student Ang Chee Kian did not care what his parents thought.
"It's friends first, mum second," he once told his mum.
He was as bad as his word.
Ang, 18, was loyal to his friends - to a fault. He picked the wrong friends.
And went wrong.
Just consider these:
In 1997, Ang was jailed four months for being part of an unlawful assembly.
That did not end his troubles.
Last year, he was charged with punching another student.
The student had picked on his friend.
There was no excuse for what he did next.
On Aug 7, he committed two robberies - in one day.
Armed a knife, Ang robbed a clinic and a provision shop near his flat in West Coast.
Why? Because he needed money for a friend, said his mother, a 46-year-old cleaner, who only wanted to be known as Mrs Ang.
According to her, her 18-year-old son had acted as a guarantor for a friend who borrowed $1,000 from a moneylender.
When his friend ran away, Ang felt he had to cough up the dough.
Even if he had to rob others to get the money?
But then Ang was loyal - to a fault.
He won't be seeing his friends now - not unless they join him in his new home.
Last Tuesday he was sentenced to seven years' jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane. What a waste of years when he could have made something of himself.
Ang had just started his course in information technology and computer studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic when he committed the offence.
But then, as he told his mum once: "It's friends first, mum second."
When once his mother asked him to stop going to discos and hanging out with his "Ah Lian" girlfriends, he shot back:
"Then I won't have any friends to go out with."
Not that Ang - whose father is a warehouse assistant and sister, 20, an undergraduate - had no other friends.
One of his childhood friends, who wanted to be known only as Kok Hong, had told Ang to stop hanging out with troublemakers at a coffeeshop.
"But he argued back: 'My O-level results are better than yours'," said Kok Hong, 20, who has known Ang since they were in Primary 1.
So like his friends, Ang had tattoos - Chinese words of love on his ankle and a centipede and fish design on his arm.
His mum got a fright when she found out her son had robbed somebody with a knife.
She said in Mandarin: "My son will do things without thinking of the consequences.
"I kept scolding him, why are you so stupid, your future or your friends important?"
The answer seems quite obvious for Mrs Ang now.
Playful but helpful classmate
ALTHOUGH her son had a bad temper, he had a good heart, said Mrs Ang.
He would willingly accompany her to the temple, and would refuse to take money from his 80-year-old grandmother.
Agreed childhood friend Kok Hong, who is studying at another polytechnic here: "He's a nice guy, and he's very loyal to his friends."
Teachers and classmates remember him as an intelligent boy who kept a low profile.
"Although he was playful, he always produced results.
"He was very good in physics, and he was willing to sacrifice his time to teach me and his other classmates," said former schoolmate Anabelle Tan, 18.
Anabelle, who was in the same Tanglin Secondary class with Chee Kian for two years, said:
"In class, he was cheerful and happy. He wasn't violent or abusive."
Both Anabelle and Kok Hong were shocked when they heard their old school friend had been arrested yet again.
Explained Kok Hong: "Two weeks before Chee Kian committed the robbery, he was asking his friends to lend him money.
"I didn't have enough to lend him, but I called him the day before, and asked if he settled the problem. He said that it was settled.
"Why did he lie to me?
"I was trying to find the money for him."
Ang's behaviour was perhaps best summed up by one of his teachers: "He was a pleasant young man, but I guess he lacked the willpower to improve and was vulnerable to influences outside of school."
The day he robbed the clinic
ON the morning of Aug 7, Ang went to the Faber Clinic and Surgery at Block 501, West Coast Road and pointed a knife at one of the clinic assistants.
He asked for Dormicum - a substitute used by heroin addicts, planning to sell it, but the clinic did not stock that drug.
So instead, he took $182 from the cash register.
After shaving his head to avoid being recognised, Ang struck again in the evening, this time with a 15-year-old accomplice.
They tried to rob Mr Lim Sin Lan, 60, who owned a provision shop in the same block.
When Mr Lim struggled, Ang's accomplice stabbed him in the chest.
They fled the scene and threw the knife into a nearby canal.
Ang was caught less than 30 minutes later, while his accomplice was arrested later at home.
The case of Ang's accomplice is still pending.

The Electric New Paper. Copyright © 1999
Singapore Press Holdings. All Rights Reserved.

Straits Times, Singapore, 24 October 1999

Man who turned 50 spared the cane

Drug trafficker will not be given five strokes as CJ rules that caning cannot be carried out once offender turns 50

By Alethea Lim

A DRUG trafficker who was supposed to get five strokes of the cane escaped the rotan -- because Chief Justice Yong Pung How ruled that an offender cannot be caned if he turns 50 at the time he is due to carry out his sentence. On May 22 this year, Alfred Christie Ratnam was sentenced by a district court to 5 years' jail and five strokes of the cane for selling three packets of cannabis.

He was 49 when the sentence was passed at his trial.

In his written grounds of judgment on Thursday, CJ Yong clarified the caning procedures, citing a note in the law which refers to the "execution of sentence of caning in certain cases forbidden".

This indicates "very strongly", he stated, that the offender's age should be taken into account when the sentence imposed is due to be carried out.

On the day of Ratnam's appeal on Sept 28, his lawyer had argued unsuccessfully against his conviction in the High Court. But the lawyer asked CJ Yong to set aside the caning sentence as Ratnam had turned 50 on that very day.

Although the law states that a convicted man aged 50 and over cannot be caned, it does not say if his age should relate to the time of his crime, the day he was sentenced, or the day he is to be caned. The CJ also stated in Thursday's judgment that since an offender's state of health is also assessed at the time of caning, the law should be interpreted to mean that a man who is 50 should not be caned when the sentence is to be carried out.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kan Shuk Weng had argued during the appeal that a "lacuna" or "loophole" would be created if the law is to be interpreted in this way.

She added that this was because an offender who is almost 50 at the time of his conviction and sentence in the trial court could escape punishment by filing appeals to delay the execution of his caning sentence. To interpret the law as referring to the time of caning when taking into account the offender's age, she said, would cause "much uncertainty" to the trial judge as he would be faced with not knowing exactly when the caning would be carried out.

The trial judge would also have the difficulty of determining whether the offender would be 50 by that time.

But CJ Yong said that although the trial court must consider the offender's age at the time when sentence is passed, it need not "concern itself" with whether or not the offender turns 50 after the sentencing.

This is because a caning sentence would not be "rendered improper or irregular" just because the offender turns 50 after the sentencing date.

CJ Yong added that prison authorities should "adopt appropriate measures and implement procedures" to ensure that there will be "no prejudice" against offenders who might be exempt from caning when they turn 50.

As for a loophole being created, it is "not a significant problem", said the CJ, as such cases are not common and are "unlikely to arise often enough to undermine our legal system".

He added: "In any case, it is for Parliament to resolve any lacuna that may be present and to settle any ambiguity beyond doubt."

Copyright 1999 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

Straits Times, Singapore, 30 October 1999

Jail, cane for overstayer who robbed

A YOUNG Chinese overstayer who robbed a fellow countryman of $1,000 with help from three other compatriots was sentenced to a total of 41 months' jail plus 15 strokes of the cane yesterday. Lin Shulong, 19, was given the minimum three years and 12 strokes for robbing Mr Ke Jingang, 37, beside a POSB ATM machine in Teban Gardens, Jurong, with the aid of his accomplices -- all Chinese nationals -- on July 21. Lin, a former kitchen steward with Hotel Conrad International Centennial, had overstayed since July 16 last year when his work permit was cancelled by his employer.

He was sentenced to the minimum three months and three strokes of the cane for overstaying, and jailed two months for stealing silver forks and a box of 100 pencils worth a total of $104 from the hotel last year. All the sentences are consecutive.

Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang told a district court that Lin and his accomplices had assaulted Mr Ke after asking him to "pay up" for "playing with girls".

Lin again attacked Mr Ke with a chopper after he refused to divulge his personal identification number. Mr Ke then withdrew $1,000 from the ATM machine although Lin had demanded $5,000.

Lin was arrested at a Bendemeer Road flat on July 25 by officers from the Criminal Investigation Department's Organised Crime Branch.

Counsel Lim Swee Tee said in mitigation that his client had borrowed money to come to Singapore to work as a waiter in 1996, but had found on his arrival that he had to wash dishes. He tried but failed to get back his $12,000 agency fee.

Lin, he said, was remorseful and had cooperated with the police in finding his accomplices who were at large.

The prosecution will call Lin as its witness in the trial against the trio next month.

Copyright © 1999 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Colin Farrell
Page updated: December 1999