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Judicial CP - May 2005

Corpun file 15853

Straits Times, Singapore, 25 May 2005

Jailed, caned for hurting ex-girlfriend with flower pot

By Arthur Poon

THE former boyfriend of a nightclub hostess, who spent a year on the run in Malaysia after assaulting her, was jailed for seven years and sentenced to 10 strokes of the cane yesterday.

CAUGHT FINALLY: Tan was arrested after a year on the run.

When Tan Hong Aik, 30, arrived at Changi Airport on April 12 this year, he got a double surprise. First, he was arrested for the assault, then he tested positive for cannabis use.

In court yesterday, he pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt and two counts of drug consumption.

A district court heard that Tan, an electronics sales executive, went to look for Ms Valerie Chia, 29, on Nov 12, 2003, a few days after they had broken up.

He wanted to collect his clothes after moving out of their rented Balestier apartment.

When she came back to her apartment block at about 2.30am, she asked Tan to wait in the ground floor lift lobby, but he barged into the lift and insisted on going upstairs with her.

When Ms Chia refused, he began punching and kicking her.

She ran out and fell over. Tan then threw a potted plant at her, but missed. He then threw the ceramic base of the pot at her, this time hitting her on the head.

Picking up a fragment of the broken flower pot, he then started slashing and hitting her right arm.

Tan stopped only when one of Ms Chia's flatmates, who happened to be returning home at that time, shouted at him.

He ran away after they threatened to call the police.

Ms Chia had to be rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital to have a 10cm cut on her right arm stitched.

As well as a fractured right arm, she sustained a bruised left eye and multiple cuts to her forehead and arm.

Tan immediately fled to Malaysia and remained there for more than a year.

In mitigation, his lawyer, Mr Lim Swee Tee, said his client was under the influence of alcohol and was provoked at the time of incident. The assault was not premeditated, he added.

Mr Lim said his client, who has two older siblings, knew Ms Chia since she was 17.

The pair later lost contact, but met again in May 2003 after she separated from her husband.

Tan moved in with her in August 2003.

But their relationship soured just days before the assault when she accused him of cheating on her and not returning her calls.

Corpun file 15854

Straits Times, Singapore, 26 May 2005

Robbed by adopted daughter, bashed by her boyfriend

Couple jailed for robbing and hurting old woman; she forgives daughter - and pines for her

By Selina Lum and Khushwant Singh

ANYBODY searching for an example of unconditional love need look no further than 57-year-old Madam Thanapakiam Avena Vana Erulapan.

First, Madam Thanapakiam's teenage adopted daughter and her boyfriend stole $2,900 worth of jewellery from her. Then, a few days later, the 19-year-old girl stood by while her boyfriend beat the old woman up and stole yet more jewellery and other items worth $10,000.

The adopted daughter and her boyfriend

FEB 27: Sumathi Wang Xin Hui and part-time security guard Mugunthan Ponusamy stole $2,900 worth of jewellery from Madam Thanapakiam.

MARCH 6: Sumathi distracted her mother and let her boyfriend into the house. Mugunthan punched Madam Thanapakiam and grabbed the gold chain she was wearing around her neck. Sumathi grabbed her mother's handbag - which contained gold and diamond jewellery, a mobile phone and Madam Thanapakiam's wallet, worth a total of $10,000 - and fled.

After Sumathi Wang Xin Hui and 20-year-old Mugunthan Ponusamy were jailed for five years each on Tuesday, Madam Thanapakiam responded as perhaps only a parent can.

'The jewellery were family heirlooms, but I don't mind losing them so long as Sumathi will be reunited with me. I miss her dearly.'

The problems began, she said, when Sumathi got to know Mugunthan, a part-time security guard, after she enrolled in a travel and tourism course at a commercial college in Dhoby Ghaut late last year.

Madam Thanapakiam and her Chinese husband adopted Sumathi when she was four years old. She said: 'When my husband died two months after the adoption, she became everything to me. She was always a good girl until she met that man.'

Soon, her adopted daughter's behaviour began to change.

'She began staying out and instead of asking me for $5 spending money as she used to, she began asking for $50 or $100 and I knew the money was for him.'

When the mother found Mugunthan visiting Sumathi at home, she forbade him to come again, but he ignored her.

She said: 'I called the police once and they told him to stay away but he did not listen to them. I tried talking to Sumathi, but she didn't listen because she was hopelessly in love.'

Then, on Feb 27, the pair broke into her Carpmael Road home, off Dunman Road, stealing $2,900 worth of jewellery. After the robbery, Madam Thanapakiam began carrying her remaining jewellery around in her handbag.

The pair kept a low profile until March 6, when Sumathi called her mother at about 2pm to say she was coming home.

When they arrived at the house, Sumathi went inside and began talking to her mother. After turning up the radio to muffle any sound, she gave a signal to Mugunthan, who entered the house and began punching Madam Thanapakiam.

He grabbed the gold chain she was wearing around her neck, while Sumathi took her mother's handbag and fled.

The handbag contained assorted gold and diamond jewellery, a mobile phone and Madam Thanapakiam's wallet, worth a total of $10,000.

After she was assaulted, Madam Thanapakiam called the police. She was later taken to Changi General Hospital suffering from facial bruises and a sore chest.

Sumathi and Mugunthan sold the jewellery for $4,350 to a goldsmith in Serangoon. It has not been recovered.

On Tuesday, Sumathi was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to robbery with hurt. Mugunthan, who admitted to the same charges, was jailed for five years and ordered to be given 12 strokes of the cane.

Even though she knows justice has to be served, Madam Thanapakiam is willing to forgive her daughter. She even regrets not being able to raise $20,000 bail for Sumathi after she was arrested on April 29.

She said: 'I was unable to visit Sumathi while she was in remand and saw her only on Tuesday in court.'

Yesterday, Madam Thanapakiam called the Changi Women's Prison to find out when she can visit her daughter. 'I was told to wait for a letter from the prison and I pray it'll come soon.'

Corpun file 15956

Straits Times, Singapore, 31 May 2005

Carjacker nabbed, thanks to alert cabby

Taxi driver spotted stolen car shortly after police sent out an alert

By Elena Chong

THE appeal was simple and chilling: Look out for a stolen blue Mitsubishi Lancer, driven by an armed man.

CONVICTED: Koh got 18 years' preventive detention, 15 strokes and a driving ban.

Less than two hours after the police sent out the message to Singapore's 40,000 taxi drivers, a CityCab driver spotted the vehicle in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, with two men standing next to it.

Cabby Chua Mui Choon, 44, immediately dialled 999.

One of the men was Koh Hock Seng, who held up, threatened and robbed project manager Go Wan Chuan, 31, before taking off with his car on April 13. The other man, it turned out, was not involved.

Yesterday, the 49-year-old carjacker was sentenced to 18 years' preventive detention and 15 strokes of the cane, and also slapped with a six-year driving ban.

The drama began near Lorong 25 Geylang, where Mr Go parked his $25,000 car to withdraw $100 from an ATM machine at around 7.45pm.

When he got back into his vehicle, he found a fruit knife being pointed at him. The man holding it demanded that he drive to Ang Mo Kio and give him $3,000.

When Mr Go said that he did not have that amount, Koh insisted that he raise the sum.

Along the way to Ang Mo Kio, the project manager called his boss to tell him what had happened. He also asked him to speak to Koh, who told the man he had better help his employee if he did not wish to see him harmed.

Along MacPherson Road, Koh ordered Mr Go to stop the vehicle, hand over whatever cash he had and get out. He told him to raise $3,000 within an hour and meet him.

Mr Go immediately called his boss, who called the police. They alerted the Land Transport Authority and all taxi drivers about the stolen car. At about 9.50pm, Mr Chua saw the stolen vehicle parked by the roadside.

Officers drove Mr Go to the scene where he identified Koh as the man who robbed him. They found the fruit knife, the $100 he took from Mr Go, and two cameras on the man.

Koh, who has committed a variety of offences including robbery since the 1970s, pleaded guilty to four charges of armed robbery, extortion, car theft and driving without a licence. Two other charges were taken into consideration.

In passing sentence, District Judge F.G. Remedios said Koh's 12-year stint of preventive detention on the last occasion had not stopped him from committing similar offences.

'You are obviously in need of a longer term of detention,' he said before sentencing the rubbish collector.

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