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Judicial CP - September 2004

Corpun file 13971

Straits Times, Singapore, 4 September 2004

Shankar spared the cane by court

By Chong Chee Kin

FORMER television presenter Vidya Shankar Aiyar, now serving a 16-month jail term for molesting a woman, will be spared the cane because he has back problems from a slipped disc.

District Judge Victor Yeo, who convicted Shankar in January, had ordered that he be caned four strokes.

Shankar, 37, who is doing time in Queenstown Remand Prison, was back in Mr Yeo's court yesterday with his lawyers, Mr Subhas Anandan and Mr Anand Nalachandran.

Appearing in the light orange overalls worn by prisoners, the bachelor looked much thinner than when he appeared in court in January.

His hair was closely cropped and instead of the metal-rimmed spectacles he was seen wearing on TV, he wore one with thick black rims.

Mr Anandan told the court that both Singapore General Hospital specialists and a Prisons Department medical officer had concluded that Shankar was unfit for caning.

He also said that in January, he had petitioned the President for clemency.

The reply, from the President's principal private secretary, was that there was 'no need to consider a clemency petition' as the prison's medical officer had found Shankar unfit for caning.

Mr Anandan said the President, after consultation with the Cabinet, was 'unable to accede' to the request to shorten the sentence.

Under the law, the judge has the power to lengthen the term for up to 12 months regardless of the number of strokes forgone.

But Mr Anandan convinced Mr Yeo not to do so on medical grounds. Shankar was convicted on two charges of molesting a 30-year-old woman in November 2002 at his apartment in Chuan Park, after a housewarming party.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 13986

Straits Times, Singapore, 10 September 2004

Bungling duo

Life term, caning for young girl's kidnappers

There was meticulous planning behind failed kidnap, says judge. He praises the public-spiritedness of three who foiled it

By Elena Chong

TWO kidnappers who snatched a seven-year-old girl from her home in Yio Chu Kang on Christmas Day last year, were yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment and three strokes of the cane.

Opportunistic and cool, Chua (left) and Tan had spent a week planning the kidnap last December.

Although Tan Ping Koon, 35, and Chua Ser Lian, 42, let the girl go after 30 minutes, it was 'not caused by a change of heart but by their sheer hard luck', said Justice Tay Yong Kwang.

'There was every likelihood they would have held her captive in the first accused's flat if they had got away without being spotted and followed,' he added.

The duo had been seen by two catering assistants who were at the girl's home to prepare for a Christmas party to be held later in the evening.

Madam Chua Siew Eng saw Chua carrying the girl and dashing to a getaway car. Ms Ho Yen Yen noted the colour of the Toyota and the licence plate number and told Madam Chua to alert her husband, who was driving nearby.

Mechanic Ang Teck Ann trailed the kidnappers who then abandoned the girl along a road in Pasir Ris.

Despite the unsuccessful kidnap, the duo further demonstrated their brazenness by trying to extort money from the family, said Justice Tay.

That very same evening, they decided to demand money in return for the family's safety.

Tan called the girl's father over the next two days.

They bought phone cards, concocted a story for the girl's father, scouted around for a safe drop-off point for the money and planned a route for him to take.

All this, said the judge, showed 'clear-thinking, cool and rational minds'.

After picking up the money, he said Chua was able to tell Tan that it would be 'quite troublesome with the $10,000 notes and we have to think of a way to get rid of the notes'.

Their police statements showed that the discussions and planning for the kidnap took at least a week.

'There was clearly meticulous planning with the second accused (Chua) appearing to be the more brainy one.

'Their moves were opportunistic, targeting easy victims like children and intruding into a home at a time when preparations for a party were under way and when strangers would not be immediately noticed,' he said.

Tan, a father of one, and Chua, who has two sons, ought to know, being parents, the anguish of any parent whose child goes missing, even for a few minutes, said the judge.

He said life imprisonment would be appropriate and three strokes of the cane enough punishment to 'convey the message that kidnapping, especially of vulnerable victims, is likely to be visited with painful consequences'.

A second charge of extortion involving $70,000 was taken into consideration.

The judge praised the heart-warming public-spiritedness of the two catering assistants and the husband of one of them.

Ms Ho, he said, had been very quick-witted and observant in noting the registration number in a fleeting glimpse and amid the commotion.

She had also shown great presence of mind in giving it to Madam Chua, who quickly related it to her husband.

'Ang Teck Ann displayed courage and selflessness in pursuing the RAV4 assiduously as he could not know whether the kidnappers were dangerous men.

'His kind actions must have ameliorated to a great extent the horrific experience suffered by the then seven-year-old victim, barefoot and abandoned by the roadside in unfamiliar surroundings,' he said.

Justice Tay also said the episode exemplified the police force's 'superb work'.

'The swiftness with which the officers identified and arrested the kidnappers is inspiring indeed.'

Corpun file 13990

Straits Times, Singapore, 15 September 2004

Robber who preyed on cabbies jailed

IN DEBT to loan sharks and desperate for money, Chai Sing Chiew preyed on taxi drivers.

Armed with a kitchen knife and adhesive tape to tie up his victims, he robbed four cabbies this year, three in May alone.

He even taped his fingers so he would leave no fingerprints.

Chai, 31, was jailed for six years yesterday, and ordered to be caned the maximum 24 strokes.

For armed robbery, he could have been jailed for 14 years.

He targeted taxi drivers because he knew they would have money on them.

He got the idea after his sister-in-law refused him a loan on Feb 10.

Shortly after 5pm that day, he hailed his first victim in Jurong West and asked to be taken to the rear entrance of Tengah Airbase in Choa Chu Kang.

There, he threatened the driver with the knife, taped his hands, bundled him into the passenger seat and drove to a multi-storey carpark in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, where he robbed him of more than $400 in cash and valuables.

Chai fled and took another cab home.

The cabby managed to get free and reported the robbery to the police.

Between May 1 and 11, Chai robbed three more cabbies.

He was caught on May 11 after he had robbed the fourth cabby.

From Beauty World Shopping Centre in Bukit Timah, he directed the driver to Woodlands.

However, he stopped him on the Bukit Timah Expressway, pretending he was about to throw up.

He brandished the knife, pushed the driver out, got behind the wheel and drove off.

A passing motorcyclist saw the cabby, called the police and gave them the cab licence plate number.

Later that day, patrolling policemen spotted Chai driving the cab along Upper Bukit Timah Road.

They chased him when he refused to stop. The chase ended when the cab skidded off the road.

Chai fled on foot but was caught after a short chase.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 14033

Straits Times, Singapore, 18 September 2004

Uncle molested, raped girl for years

Factory worker gets 27 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane

By Elena Chong

FOR nine years, a 36-year-old man molested and raped his niece.

When she was in school, he would wait outside for her, and then take her to a staircase landing of a block of flats and molest her. She was then about 13.

When the girl threatened to tell her mother about what he was doing to her, he slapped her.

After that, the student, now 19, did not attempt any more resistance.

But that did not stop him from threatening her.

He demanded that she call him on his mobile phone every day after school so he could tell her if he would be meeting her.

He even caned her when he was unhappy with her or felt that she was not obeying his instructions.

He also threatened to slap her if she cried while being caned, and told her she could not go for her regular swims because he did not want anyone to see the cane marks on her body.

Yesterday, he was put behind bars for 27 years and ordered to receive the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

The factory worker, who faced 21 charges, was arrested after the girl made a report to the police about being raped at a hotel last December.

She made the report at the urging of her boyfriend on Feb 3 this year.

The bachelor, who was unrepresented, pleaded guilty to six instances of molestation, causing hurt, rape, aggravated rape and oral sex, which took place between 1998 and 2000.

The court heard that the incidents of molestation began between 1995 and 1996, when the girl was just 10.

They escalated and, between 1999 and 2000, he raped her three times, once in a men's toilet at a market, where he also slapped her, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Woo Ka Wai yesterday.

And on one visit to her home in 2000, he made his niece perform oral sex on him.

DPP Woo told Justice Tay Yong Kwang that the teen and her uncle's siblings had written to the Attorney-General's Chambers to say they had forgiven him, but added that this did not detract from the severity of the offences.

In mitigation, the man said he was remorseful and would like to apologise to his niece and her family.

He also asked the court to be lenient, saying that he would turn over a new leaf.

His two sisters and two sisters-in-law were in court and bade him a teary farewell before he was led away to serve his sentence.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

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