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Judicial CP - April 2003

Straits Times, 2 April 2003

What remorse? Jail term upped to 14 years for serial robber, 17

School dropout who committed 45 offences in a few months seeks to slash 9-year jail term but appeal backfires

SECONDARY school dropout Jerriek Chen Weixiong made a fast and furious entrance to the world of crime last year, chalking up 45 offences in just a few months.


'What is the evidence that he's been remorseful?

Just counsel saying he is remorseful? Can he say that he has been cleaning the wards of Tan Tock Seng Hospital? That would show great remorse...or has he cleaned maybe, an old folk's home or something like that?'

- Chief Justice Yong Pung How,
on teen Jerriek Chen Weixiong (above)

He was 16 when he went around with two accomplices robbing school children of their mobile phones and bashing them up if they did not give them up easily.

Yesterday, Chen got a fast and furious introduction to how the Singapore judicial system regards offenders like him.

Now 17, he went before the Chief Justice, hoping to have his district court sentence slashed.

CJ Yong Pung How instead increased the 9-year jail sentence to 14 years, and ruled that Chen receive the maximum of 24 strokes of the cane, as dished out by the district court on Jan 29.

Chen, unemployed, had pleaded guilty to seven charges in January: three of robbery, three of robbery with hurt, and one of causing hurt with a dangerous weapon.

Thirty-eight other similar charges were considered.

Chen and his accomplices, Koh Bang Long and Samuel Chia Jia Ting, both 17, targeted students aged 12 to 16, robbing them of their mobile phones in June and July last year. Koh and Chia have been dealt with already.

The three would sell the mobile phones to various shops and spend the cash on food, drinks and arcade games.

Chen was arrested in August but committed another offence while he was out on bail.

On Dec 26 last year, he smashed a beer bottle over Mr Andy Lim Ban Chit's head at a Yishun coffeeshop. The trigger: He claimed the 22-year-old man had stared at him.

Chen's lawyer, Mr James Lee Ah Fong, told the CJ yesterday that Chen was a first offender and might be better suited to a reformative training centre than jail.

He said Chen's father had sought help from the Sembawang Family Service Centre last year - before Chen committed his string of offences - because the teen was out of control.

A volunteer counsellor from the centre had stated in his report that Chen was vulnerable to negative peer influence but had the potential to rehabilitate and change.

When counsel said his client was remorseful, the CJ asked: 'What is the evidence that he's been remorseful? Just counsel saying he is remorseful? Can he say that he has been cleaning the wards of Tan Tock Seng Hospital? That would show great remorse... or has he cleaned, maybe, an old folk's home or something like that?'

Urging the CJ to give his client a final chance to turn over a new leaf, Mr Lee said the two months that Chen had already spent in prison had 'shaken' him up.

CJ Yong said that, in 12 years on the bench, no one had ever explained how to rehabilitate people like Chen.

'In the public interest, we lock them away so that you, your partners, more important your family, your children, can walk along Orchard Road even at night without harassment,' he said.

Straits Times, Singapore, 12 April 2003

Jail, cane for man who stabbed ex-wife 14 times

During row at her office, he attacks her repeatedly but she survives. After calling a newspaper hotline, he gives himself up

By Selina Lum

WEARING a crash helmet, a 40-year-old man barged into his former wife's office, quarrelled with her and stabbed her 14 times.

But the 38-year-old woman survived.

Stabbed by her former husband in her face, neck, back and chest, Madam Leong was warded for eight days. Seng pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

All the wounds, save one, were superficial, the High Court heard yesterday.

The assailant, Seng Inn Thye, was jailed for five years and ordered to be given four strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of Madam Leong Mei Chan.

The man, who sobbed throughout the court proceedings, stood with his head bowed and his hands clasped tightly.

An operations supervisor, he had been married to Madam Leong, a clerk, for 14 years before they were divorced in 1999. They adopted a son in 1994.

The court heard that Seng had gone to Madam Leong's office at Tannery Lane in the MacPherson area on the morning of Aug 16 last year with a bag containing their divorce papers and a fruit knife.

They started quarrelling, with Madam Leong taunting her former husband to kill her.

He repeatedly punched and slapped her, dragged her around and stabbed her, before fleeing the office.

Madam Leong was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital with stab wounds to her face, neck, back and chest. She was warded for eight days.

After the attack, Seng called the hotline of Shin Min Daily News. The journalist who took his call, Mr Sam Seow, advised the sobbing man to surrender to the police.

Seng's defence counsel, Mr Ang Sin Teck, told the court that after the call, the man, still crying, tried to wave down a police car but the driver did not stop.

Seng wandered aimlessly for about an hour, eventually telling a traffic policeman that he had stabbed his former wife.

Explaining why Seng was in a rage, Mr Ang said while they were married, he had paid most of the expenses, such as for the flat, his wife's fertility treatments and the adoption.

The divorce was initiated by his wife after Seng discovered she was having an affair.

After the divorce, she sued for custody of the child, maintenance for herself and for all their assets to be divided. Anger over all this was still simmering when Seng felt that she was trying to deprive him of the roof over his head by insisting on selling their flat at 30 per cent below what it was valued at, the lawyer said.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Benjamin Yim told the court that Seng had planned the attack in a cold and calculated fashion by stalking his former wife to her office.

In sentencing, Justice Choo Han Teck noted that Seng had been remorseful after the attack, calling for help and very quickly surrendering himself, in tears, to the police.

The judge also noted that Seng, who suffered from a recurrent depressive disorder, had to struggle against his mental illness.

However, no matter how much anguish his former wife had caused, it was still a serious assault, he said.

Although only one of the wounds was potentially life-threatening, one wound was enough to kill.

'That Madam Leong did not die was her good fortune and, in that sense, also the accused's, for he might otherwise have faced a capital charge,' he said.

Straits Times, Singapore, 15 April 2003

15 years' jail for man who robbed goldsmith's shop

By Selina Lum

ONE of two armed men who held up a Bukit Merah goldsmith's shop last year was jailed for 15 years and ordered to be caned the maximum 24 strokes yesterday.

Lim Kok Siong, 34, who pleaded guilty to armed robbery with hurt, showed no emotion when the sentence was read out.

It was one of the rare instances of a goldsmith's shop being robbed in the last few years.

He and his accomplice, Tan Kian Keong, 22, rushed into Lee Kong Chye Goldsmith at about 4.40 pm on March 18 last year, wearing gloves and carrying black bags and 40cm-long parangs.

At the time, there were no customers in the shop.

Lim whacked the handle of his parang against a couple of glass showcases, but they did not break.

So he hit the 63-year-old shop manager, Mr Tan Keng Siang, on his back with the blunt end of the chopper and demanded that he unlock the showcases.

Mr Tan complied, opening the showcases containing gold bangles, chains and coins; another employee unlocked the other showcases.

The duo emptied 10 trays of jewellery - worth more than $400,000 - into their bags and fled on foot before getting away in a blue Toyota van parked in front of a rubbish collection centre at Bukit Merah Central.

They left Singapore separately within 24 hours, and arranged to meet in Malaysia.

Lim sold their haul for RM270,000 (S$126,350), split the money with Tan, and spent his share mainly on gambling.

He was arrested in Tanjong Karang, Selangor, by the Malaysian police on Sept 6 and extradited to Singapore five days later.

Tan is still at large.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutors Benjamin Yim and Wong Sook Ping pressed for a deterrent sentence, highlighting Lim's long list of previous convictions. This included a six-year jail term in 1990 for more than 100 counts of housebreaking.

Pointing out that both men had been armed with parangs, DPP Yim said: 'They had no qualms in using these weapons when necessary, even on an elderly victim.'

But Lim's lawyer, Mr Choo Si Sen, argued that the elderly Mr Tan suffered only a bruise and superficial cut, and was discharged from hospital the day after he was warded.

He said Lim robbed the goldsmith because he was heavily in debt and wanted some 'quick money' to solve his financial woes.

The owner of the goldsmith shop, Mr Lim Ban Lee, who was in court, told reporters after the sentence was passed: 'He got what he deserved. My man didn't do anything and yet he used the parang to whack him.'

He added that his insurance company had since paid for the shop's losses.

Copyright @ 2003 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

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