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Reformatory CP - April 2003
The New Paper, Singapore, 10 April 2003
Teen terror on streets, mouse in courtBy Lee Tee Jong
He is a 13-year-old school drop-out who masterminded a string of robberies in Tiong Bahru.
His five victims are all younger than he is. His five accomplices are all older.
In one week early this year, he and his accomplices, aged between 13 and 17, terrorised other boys, robbed them, and sometimes beat them up.
And he is not even big for his age.
Simon (not his real name, which cannot be used as he is a juvenile) is only about 1.4m tall.
The Malaysian boy told a probation officer: 'I want money and will do anything to get it!'
But he sounded totally different at the juvenile court yesterday .
In front of Magistrate May Mesenas, Simon's bravado turned into begging and pleading - and tears.
Simon, whose head was clean shaven, was wearing a grey T-shirt, track pants and shoes.
His voice quaked, his legs shook and tears streamed down his cheeks as he asked to be let off lightly.
In between sobs, he said: 'Please give me a chance.'
'I want to go to school.
'I want to help look after my sick mother.'
Simon added: 'If I breach my probation, then send me to Boys Home.'
He said his mother was seriously ill and was unable to attend court yesterday.
His father who was there with him also pleaded on his behalf for probation.
But the judge was not impressed.
She said: 'Why should I give you a chance?'
There was silence as she added: 'You should have thought of your mother before you committed the crimes and not after.'
Simon's behaviour while in remand at the Singapore Boys Home also did not help.
In his four months there, he got into fights and was given three strokes of the cane.
As for his claim of wanting to study, the judge had her misgivings.
She told the probation officer to check Simon's IQ and assess whether he needed to be sent to a special school as Simon had failed his Primary School Leaving Examination twice.
Placed In Welfare Home
The judge told Simon: 'You are very close to being sent to Boys Home but I decided to place you in a home instead.'
She ordered him to be placed in Muhammadiyah Welfare Home for three years with a review in three months' time.
His father has to make a monthly contribution of $50 and attend mandatory counselling.
He was also put under a $1,000 bond to ensure that he exercises proper care and guardianship over his son.
The boy was still in tears as he was led away. A far cry from the robber who prowled the streets of Tiong Bahru.
HOW THE TEENS DID IT
THEIR methods were simple.
They would target a lone youngster, surround him, take him to an isolated void deck, accuse him of staring at them and ask for his gang affiliation.
They would then demand that he hand over his wallet and other valuables.
Their loot from the five robberies between Jan 2 and Jan 9, included cash, handphones, and ez-link and CashCards.
If the victim resisted, they would resort to violence.
On one occasion, without any provocation, Simon pinned a victim to a wall.
When the victim resisted, Simon and his accomplices rained punches on him.
Their hunting ground was around Jalan Membina Barat and Kim Tian Place in Tiong Bahru. Their victims reported the robberies to the police and the robbers were arrested at Beo Crescent on Jan 9.
Court documents revealed that Simon started his criminal activity when he was 12.
On June 27 last year he stole a bag worth about $14 from the Jurong East Swimming Complex.
In court, Simon pleaded guilty to five robbery-related charges and one charge of theft.
The prosecution proceeded with two counts of robbery and took the rest into consideration.
Copyright © 2003 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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