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Judicial CP - June 2004

Corpun file 13502

Straits Times, Singapore, 5 June 2004

20 years, 21 strokes for robbing and attacking elderly vagrant

By Selina Lum

A MAN who, with his wife, assaulted an elderly vagrant sleeping in a void deck after robbing him of $204, was yesterday put away for 20 years.

Vicious criminal Raffi Jelan (above), 37, kicked and slashed the 74-year-old after robbing him of $204.

Raffi Jelan, 37, who will also be caned, has no chance of getting out early because of his long history of crime.

Together with his wife, Badariah Mastor, 28, he had robbed 74-year-old Ahmad Yang Besar at about 2.55am on Aug 31 last year because the couple apparently needed cab fare.

When Mr Ahmad, a rag-and-bone man, scorned them for taking an old man's money, the pair became enraged and punched and kicked him, even as he pleaded for mercy.

Raffi also repeatedly slashed the elderly man's face with a penknife.

Passers-by managed to detain the couple at the scene, at Block 664 in Buffalo Road, near Tekka Centre, until the police arrived.

Mr Ahmad, who was by then unconscious, remained comatose until he died two weeks later of extensive head injuries.

Badariah, a mother of three, was jailed last month for five years after she pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Yesterday, her husband was sentenced to the maximum 20 years of preventive detention - a regime for repeat offenders with no chance of early release - and 21 strokes of the cane.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, robbery with hurt and drug consumption.

Two other charges involving possession of obscene and uncensored VCDs were taken into consideration.

Deputy Public Prosecutor David Khoo had asked the court to hand down a deterrent sentence and impose a period of preventive detention on Raffi because of his criminal history.

It will not be the first time he has had a spell in jail or been caned.

His career in crime began at the age of 22 in 1988, when he was sentenced to one day's jail and fined $700 for theft. He was also twice admitted to a drug rehabilitation centre.

In 1993, he moved on to more serious offences, spending two years behind bars for burglary.

Then, in 1996, he was jailed for six years and ordered to be caned 24 strokes for robbery and theft.

During sentencing yesterday, Judicial Commissioner V.K. Rajah agreed with DPP Khoo that a person who commits an offence against a vulnerable victim, such as the handicapped, children and the elderly, ought to be dealt with more severely.

He noted that Raffi did not pick on an illegal immigrant who was sleeping next to Mr Ahmad.

'He took advantage of the deceased's frailty both in robbing him and in raining blows and kicks on him. He heartlessly brushed aside the deceased's repeated entreaties to cease the attack,' he said.

'It was a wholly senseless and savage attack bereft of any mitigating features.'

The judicial commissioner also noted Raffi's 'long, chequered and deeply disturbing history of criminal proclivity and behaviour'.

'He has graduated radically and dramatically from an early apprenticeship in petty crime involving property to very serious criminal acts of robbery, and most recently, a brutal assault that claimed a life.'

If not put away for a long time, said the judicial commissioner, Raffi would continue to be a threat to the public and a 'negative influence' on his wife and children.

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