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Judicial CP - December 2003

Corpun file 12381

Straits Times, Singapore, 2 December 2003

Robber gave up after a year on the run

Armed robber given six years and three months in jail, and 12 strokes of the cane for Bukit Merah goldsmith shop heist

By Selina Lum

HE HAD been on the run for more than a year in Malaysia after robbing a goldsmith shop in Bukit Merah Central.

Tan called home, confessed his crime and was persuaded to turn himself in.

Then Tan Kian Keong, 23, decided to call home.

He rang his parents, confessed his crime and was coaxed to give himself up 'to set a good example for his two younger brothers'.

His 42-year-old mother told The Straits Times in Mandarin: 'He phoned me and said he had done wrong. He told me to call the police so that he could be arrested.'

Tan surrendered to the Singapore police on July 23.

Yesterday, his parents were in court to watch the eldest of their three sons, a first-time offender, sentenced to jail for six years and three months, and ordered to be caned the minimum 12 strokes.

He had admitted to committing armed robbery with hurt in March last year.

In the High Court in April this year, Tan's accomplice, 34-year-old Lim Kok Siong, who was arrested in Malaysia six months after the heist, got 15 years' jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

On March 18 last year, both men had rushed into Lee Kong Chye Goldsmith with hands in gloves and black bags.

Sporting dark glasses, they wielded their 40cm-long parangs and yelled at the staff to 'open up' in Hokkien.

Lim tried to smash the glass showcases with his parang but failed. He then turned and hit manager Tan Keng Siang with the blunt end of the knife and ordered him to unlock the showcases.

Within minutes, the two men emptied 10 trays of jewellery, worth about $400,000, into their bags.

Mr Tan, 65, who has been in the goldsmith business for almost 50 years and had never been robbed till then, yesterday recalled the holdup.

He told The Straits Times: 'My heart was thumping as I reached for the keys to open the cases. I knew they were there to rob me and I had to do what they tell me to and not make any sudden moves.'

Mr Tan and two colleagues were herded to a corner near the back of the shop before the two men looted the showcases.

Both men then left separately for Malaysia where they stayed in Kuala Lumpur.

Lim gave Tan about RM30,000 to RM40,000 (up to S$18,000) of the RM270,000 he got from selling the stolen jewellery.

He gambled most of it away.

Tan's lawyer, Mr G. Dinagaran, argued that his client had played a 'subordinate role': It was Lim who hit the showcases, whacked the manager, and who arranged for the jewellery to be sold.

Corpun file 12430

Straits Times, Singapore, 13 December 2003

Jail, cane for man who drove car into stranger

By Chong Chee Kin

IN A rare case before a district court yesterday, a man was jailed for four years and ordered to receive six strokes of the cane for deliberately driving his car into a stranger.

Businessman J. Ravinthiran, 35, was convicted under Section 326 of the Penal Code for causing serious head injuries to Mr Mohamed Alias Mohamed Hanifah, 32, by using his car, a red Toyota Corolla.

Criminal lawyers told The Straits Times the case was unusual as weapons used in such cases tended to be knives, parangs or poles.

Ravinthiran, who runs his own labour supply company, was found guilty after a three-day trial before district judge Siva Shanmugam.

Both victim and accused told the court that they did not know each other, and it was not mentioned why Ravinthiran drove his car into Mr Mohamed Alias deliberately.

The incident happened at about 4.30am on July 6, at the junction of Serangoon Road and Desker Road.

Taxi drivers Lim Hee Mong and Peck Cher Guan saw Ravinthiran's car pull up on Desker Road, its windows wound down and loud music blaring. There were four passengers in it.

Opposite their vehicle, Mr Mohamed Alias was with a group of men, and they appeared to be arguing.

When the two groups saw each other, there was a heated exchange in Tamil, Mr Lim said.

Mr Peck said that Mr Mohamed Alias was suddenly pushed forward by someone and fell into the middle of Serangoon Road.

As he tried to get up, Ravinthiran drove towards him, braked several times and then ploughed into him before driving off.

Shocked, Mr Peck and Mr Lim took down the car registration number and reported to the police.

Mr Peck told the court: 'I dare say it was done on purpose and it was not an accident.'

Police officers found the car in Syed Alwi Road. The front of the car appeared to have been washed. They arrested Ravinthiran at his nearby office, but he denied any wrongdoing.

Ravinthiran, represented by Mr Peter Fernando, told the court that he was at the scene but denied driving his car into the victim.

Instead, he claimed that Mr Mohamed Alias was struck on the head with a crowbar, by one of the men in the group by the road.

However, the judge said he accepted Mr Peck's version. Blood stains on the Toyota Corolla's licence plate had also matched samples taken from the victim.

Ravinthiran, who had previous convictions for disorderly behaviour and injuring other people, is appealing and is now out on $20,000 bail.

Copyright @ 2003 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 12464

Straits Times, Singapore, 23 December 2003

Thai gets 6 years, 12 strokes for plank attack

WHILE collecting protection money from prostitutes operating in a forested area, a man struck one of them with a metal pole. Her furious boyfriend hit him on the head with a wooden plank.

Mr Chaiya Deeking, 31, remains on a hospital bed almost two months after the attack, which occurred on Oct 26.

Yesterday, the boyfriend, Konglar Phipuannok, 20, was jailed for six years and ordered to be caned 12 strokes for the assault.

Both are Thai nationals.

The district court was given an account of what happened at an open-air brothel off Yishun Street 23, shortly after 11pm.

Mr Chaiya had been acting as a lookout for the prostitutes. He was supposed to tip them off if he saw police officers. He also collected protection money and was doing just that when construction worker Konglar saw him strike a woman with a metal pole.

Konglar would later say in court that 'Noi' was his girlfriend. Furious with the man who was beating her, Konglar grabbed a plank and smashed him over the back of his head with it.

Mr Chaiya collapsed and Konglar hit him twice more on the head before fleeing the scene with 'Noi'.

Shortly afterwards, a construction worker out looking for prostitutes found Mr Chaiya gasping for breath on the ground. He alerted the police.

Mr Chaiya was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he is still warded. He is unable to speak or walk as a result of injuries to his head.

Police investigations later revealed 'Noi' had fled Singapore. But Konglar was arrested five days after the attack. He was tracked down to Golden Mile Complex in Beach Road.

In mitigation yesterday, Konglar, speaking through a translator, pleaded with the court for leniency. He said he hit Mr Chaiya because the man had struck his girlfriend.

He could have been jailed for life, fined and caned.

Copyright @ 2003 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 12469

Straits Times, Singapore, 24 December 2003

11 illegals caught swimming into S'pore

Ten from Myanmar and a woman from China were made by unscrupulous agents to cross treacherous waters in the dark

By K.C. Vijayan

ELEVEN illegals caught in Singapore waters in three separate incidents in the past fortnight each paid $480 for a 2km boat ride from the Johor coastline to Sembawang beach.

But they were in for a rude surprise when the agents they had paid told them, after midnight, that there would be no boat and they would have to swim the Straits in the dark.

They were given rudimentary floats and life jackets to get across a distance equivalent to about 40 lengths of an Olympic-sized pool - with treacherous currents.

But night vision cameras operated by the Singapore police spotted them with less than 500m to go and they were surrounded by police patrol craft in 10 minutes.

On Monday, three Myanmar nationals were caught, while on Saturday four were picked up. On Dec 8, three were caught, along with a 48-year-old Chinese woman.

None of the illegals, aged between 17 and 48, had valid identification documents, but they were carrying small bags containing a little money.

When the police boats approached them, they tried to escape by swimming in different directions, but surrendered when they realised their efforts were in vain.

The 10 Myanmar nationals were construction workers and labourers; the woman from China was a lounge hostess. All were duped into paying agents who told them they could find jobs in Singapore.

The men were convicted of unlawful entry and each sentenced to a month in jail and four strokes of the cane. The woman was jailed for a month and fined $2,000, in default of which she will have to serve another month.

The 11 illegals were the highest number caught within a two-week period, said Police Coast Guard operations and security chief Lee Su Peng.

Police statistics show that illegals trying to enter Singapore by sea more than doubled this year. There were 108 arrests in 11 months, compared to 49 in a similar period last year.

The police attribute their success to high-tech surveillance capability and frequent coast guard patrols.

But what concerns them is the ignorance of the illegals who sell land and possessions to pay agents who promise them safe passage.

'In the end, they are cheated. They do not know about the danger of being swept away by currents in the dark,' said a police spokesman.

'All they see are the lights on the Singapore side and think there's nothing to it except a short wade across.'

Copyright @ 2003 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

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