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Corpun file 24381 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 3 March 2013, p.3
He went from jail to NUS law school
Ex-offender turns his life around in jail and will graduate with a law degree this year
By Chang Ah-Lien
Fresh-faced Mr Darren Tan graduates this year from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a law degree.
That is quite an achievement for the 34-year-old, who has spent more than 10 years of his life in jail and received 19 strokes of the cane for drug and gang-related offences.
When he finally straightened himself out, he returned to his studies with a vengeance, aced the A levels and did what many considered an audacious thing -- he applied to study law at NUS.
Associate Professor Eleanor Wong, one of two law dons who interviewed him in jail, said he demonstrated character, perseverance and commitment in the way he schooled himself in prison and turned his life around.
He became the first student with a criminal past to be admitted to the NUS law school.
By 14, he was smoking marijuana, sniffing glue and taking sleeping pills to get high, before moving on to pricier drugs. He also sold pirated VCDs, collected protection money, and was involved in illegal gambling and drug trafficking.
At 18, he was sent to the Reformative Training Centre for two years for robbery and drug consumption.
After he was released, he went back to trafficking drugs. Eleven months later, he was back in jail for trafficking and taking drugs. This time he was given an eight-year sentence. He was released, only to be caught and sent back for yet another five years, for taking drugs.
He was 25 and behind bars when his turnaround finally came. Alone in his cell and contemplating his crimes, he saw things more clearly at last: "I realised that my past life wasn't very meaningful or satisfying."
He resumed his studies, eventually taking the A levels and scoring four As and a B, including an A1 for General Paper, which he attributed to "reading the newspapers with a dictionary and grammar book by my side".
He applied for law school from prison, despite everyone advising him not to set himself up for disappointment. "My faith gave me a lot of strength," said the Christian.
Corpun file 24403 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 15 March 2013, p.A7
6½ years' jail and cane for abusing minors
By Elena Chong
LABELLED a danger to society, a man who sexually abused five minors during an 11-month reign of terror was yesterday sentenced to 6½ years' jail and six strokes of the cane.
Storeman Simon Wong Choy Chuan, 25, had pleaded guilty to 10 charges of sexual penetration of a minor, sexual exploitation of a child, and molesting a 12-year-old girl.
Pretending to be possessed by the spirit of his dead brother, he scared three of the girls into performing sexual acts on him.
In passing sentence, District Judge Siva Shanmugam said there were numerous aggravating factors in this case. The offences were premeditated, with Wong inventing elaborate schemes to manipulate the victims, getting them to submit using a combination of cunning, deceit and coercion.
He also said Wong, who assumed a false identity when he contacted three of the victims online, had exploited the anonymity provided by the Internet.
"The accused's conduct has caused the victims to suffer irreparable harm. The long-term emotional and psychological damage suffered by the victims is likely to affect their ability to function normally in society," said the judge, agreeing with the prosecution's submission that Wong posed a real danger to society.
In the case of his first victim, the 13-year-old knew him through an online game, Audition, in early June 2011. He claimed he could tell her fortune.
When they met the following month, he took her to a multistorey carpark in Ang Mo Kio where he told her that he could be possessed by his dead brother's spirit. Using a different voice, he told her fortune. He then molested her and subsequently, made her perform oral sex on him. She refused to meet him after that. But after being threatened, she agreed to meet Wong, out of fear that the spirit of his brother would come after her. On Aug 10, he took her to a staircase landing of an HDB block in Ang Mo Kio where he sexually abused her.
Wong exploited his other victims in a similar manner. In the case of the 12-year-old, he met her on Facebook in April last year.
In one meeting, he warned her and her 13-year-old friend they would be punished for making him angry.
He asked them to choose whether to be beaten 20 times, perform an obscene act on Wong or kneel on broken glass. When they chose to be beaten, he persuaded them to carry out the sex act instead. First, he took the younger girl to a staircase landing and molested her. Then he did the same with the 13-year-old.
Said the judge yesterday: "Sexual predators of children and would-be offenders must be made to realise that society does not condone such conduct and that their actions would be met with severe penalties."
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