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Judicial CP - July 2005

Corpun file 16129

Straits Times, Singapore, 1 July 2005

Police NSF molested 9 girls in Chai Chee

He gets 3 years' jail and is given the maximum 24 strokes of the cane

By Tracy Sua and Chong Chee Kin

FOR two years, Mohamed Shariff Samsudin, 21, preyed on young girls in the Chai Chee neighbourhood - until two months ago.

STALKING HIS PREY: Mohamad Shariff Samsudin would follow his victims into the lift and molest them at the lift lobby. -- WONG KWAI CHOW

On May 9, he dashed into the lift after an eight-year-old girl and struck up a conversation with her.

When she got out, he molested her.

She was victim No. 9 - and the youngest.

But that dash into the lift was what got him caught.

He appears not to have seen a small sign above the entrance that said the lift was under surveillance by a closed-circuit TV (CCTV) camera.

Police response

'POLICE are concerned over the trauma experienced by the young victims of molest cases. We understand that such crimes are emotive and of concern to parents of young children in particular.

Once a crime has been committed, police's main focus is to apprehend the culprit as soon as possible. This involves extensive inquiries, mounting ambush operations, and working closely with the grassroots.

Police also increased patrols in the areas. In this case, the areas where the molester had committed the crimes covered a large area in Chai Chee and Bedok North.

There was no trend observed and there was a long period before the molester struck again. Unfortunately, the young victims also could not provide us with a good description of the suspect.

In fact, it was not clear initially whether we were dealing with one or more culprits.

Our assessment was that publicity with insufficient details would cause public alarm and could impede police investigation.

It could also have resulted in pushing the offender to change his locations, tactics or personal appearances.'

It had been installed in February by East Coast Town Council in what it considered crime-prone blocks.

None too soon.

Shariff had got away with molesting a nine-year-old girl on a lift landing in the same block in September last year - and moved on to four more victims before he was caught.

Last week, he was jailed for three years and ordered to be caned the maximum 24 strokes after he admitted his crimes.

The neighbourhood around Chai Chee Avenue was a good hunting ground for the full-time national serviceman with the Singapore Police Force.

The girls - the oldest was 13 - all lived within walking distance.

Shariff started as early as October 2003, molesting a 12-year-old girl who lives in the area.

His modus operandi: He would follow a young girl into the lift and molest her inside or when she got out at the lift landing.

The town council had installed CCTVs in 22 lifts in 15 blocks in the Kampong Chai Chee area.

The cameras are hidden and the surveillance system is linked to the town council office where officers can monitor it from time to time and review recordings.

A town council spokesman said they were alerted to the case only when police asked to see the CCTV footage.

Shariff was arrested on May 13 after police laid an ambush to nab him.

Not that the news cheered the family of the eight-year-old who was headed home for dinner after maths tuition that May evening. She lives with five siblings in their grandmother's one-room flat.

The children told The Straits Times yesterday they had seen Shariff loitering at the void deck at least three times.

The girl recalled screaming when Shariff molested her, and running along the common corridor to her granny's flat. Her brother, 12, who was home, took her to her tuition teacher who called the police.

Her parents were upset to know yesterday there were eight victims before her.

Said her mother: 'They should have informed or alerted us and we could have kept an extra eye out for the molester, alerted the kids to be careful or even made sure they were not alone at all times.'

The mother of the other girl who lives in the same block as the eight-year-old was equally upset that she had no idea that a serial molester was on the prowl.

If the residents had been alerted in some way, her mother said, they could have taken some precautions.

She quit her part-time job in a cake shop when the girl was molested in September to look after her.

But it is the girl's older brother, 17, who is most upset - with himself, she said.

He was with his sister on the way home when he decided to join his friends instead, leaving her to go to a coffee shop alone to buy a hamburger.

Shariff, who was there, followed her to the block and molested her on the lift landing.

The girl reached the empty flat and called her brother, who rushed home to find his sister in tears.

Corpun file 16222

Straits Times, Singapore, 25 July 2005

Second chance for ex-inmate

Student starts afresh with help from after-care group

By Arlina Arshad

DRESSED in T-shirt and jeans and sporting spiky hair, 24-year-old Jeff Ong looks just like his peers at Nanyang Polytechnic.

But his clothes hide five faint cane marks, a reminder of his blemished past as a convicted drug trafficker.

'I was young and naive then. And I wanted to make some money,' said Mr Ong, who was caught five years ago peddling Ecstasy and ketamine at a club and sentenced to five strokes of the cane and sent to jail.

Having done his time, Mr Ong wants to get on with his life.

And, thanks in part to the President's Challenge, he is getting a second chance. He receives regular counselling from the Singapore After-Care Association, which provides assistance to former prison inmates.

The association is among 47 organisations that will benefit from this year's challenge, which aims to raise more than $8 million in its current drive.

Recalling his 'mistake', Mr Ong said: 'I knew it was the wrong thing to do, but I didn't think I would get caught.'

He served four years of his six-year term, receiving a two-year remission for good behaviour. 'I did a lot of reflection while in isolation. I wanted to study again,' said Mr Ong, who dropped out of school after completing Secondary 2.

And change he did.

At Tanah Merah Prison, he took his N-level examinations and scored A2s in English and Chinese, and a B4 in Science.

He was then transferred to the Kaki Bukit Prison School, where he studied for his O-level exams. His results: A1 in Principles of Accounts and Mathematics C; A2 in English, Chinese, Mathematics A and Science; and B3 in Combined Humanities.

He left prison last year, and was accepted to study biotechnology at Singapore Polytechnic. But he turned down the opportunity as he wanted to support his family, said the son of a taxi driver and housewife. He is the eldest of three siblings.

He could not find work because of the stigma attached to ex-convicts so he set up a noodle stall with a friend.

'But the business failed, so I decided to pursue my studies this year,' he said.

He began his first year as a chemical and pharmaceutical technology student last month. To support himself, he works as a karaoke disc-jockey six nights a week. 'Since I don't have a chemistry background, I have to study harder to catch up with my peers. I am very tired but I can't stop working,' he said.

But he refuses to give up. He is considering giving tuition to supplement his income. 'It would be good if someone could fund my course fees... But while waiting for that day to happen, I will just try to cope on my own.' -- Fifty hairstylists will offer haircuts at $31.50 each to raise funds for the Singapore After-Care Association to help offenders, former offenders and their families, on Sunday at Kimage Hair Studio at Funan Digitalife Mall, between 11am and 8pm.

Copyright 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 16223

Straits Times, Singapore, 29 July 2005

10 years' jail for man who robbed 5 cabbies

Stiff sentence a message to would-be cabby robbers, says judge

By Selina Lum

A 31-YEAR-OLD man who robbed five cabbies of $958 paid a heavy price for his crime spree.

PLEA REJECTED: Lee wanted the judge to order that his photograph not be published in the newspapers, but this was rejected. He was also sentenced to 24 strokes of the cane.

Lee Hock Woo looked stunned when he was sentenced to 10 years' jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

The sentence is a message to would-be cabby robbers to lay off those who are trying to earn an honest living, said the judge who handed down the punishment.

'The accused committed these offences with impunity, choosing taxi drivers as his vulnerable victims,' said Senior District Judge Richard Magnus.

'The court must provide protection to the public, in particular taxi drivers who are regarded as easy targets.'

Lee, who is unemployed, had robbed the cabbies between June 2 and 11 in broad daylight. He would flag down a taxi, then sit directly behind the driver's seat. When the cab reached his destination, he would whip out a paper cutter and demand money.

One of the victims, Mr Lim Peng Lye, 54, suffered small cuts when he tried to push the paper cutter away in shock after Lee pressed the weapon against his neck.

Lee was arrested on June 13 after two police officers chased him when they spotted him flagging down a taxi at the junction of Silat Avenue, where he lived, and Kampong Bahru.

They arrested him when the taxi stopped at the junction of Jalan Bukit Merah and Kim Tian Road.

A letter opener was found under the floor mat of the taxi.

Lee confessed that he intended to use it to rob the cabby.

An identification parade was conducted and all five cabbies said he was the one who had robbed them.

Yesterday, Lee, who did not have a lawyer, pleaded for a light jail term. He said he had robbed the cabbies because he could not find a job as he had a criminal record.

Lee has been jailed a total of 45 months since 1995 for a variety of offences, including drug consumption and possession of offensive weapons and obscene films.

He said he did not want to burden his 68-year-old mother who works as a cleaner and is recovering from cancer.

Lee asked the judge to order that his photograph not be published in newspapers because his mother would be 'disappointed' if their relatives knew he was going to prison.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nor'ashikin Samdin argued for a deterrent sentence, pointing out that owing to the nature of their job, taxi drivers are vulnerable to the 'ill intentions of unsavoury characters'.

She noted that Lee resorted to robbing cabbies for 'easy money' whenever he needed money to buy food, cigarettes or sleeping pills.

The judge agreed, saying that the offences were committed in a calculated manner.

'Taxi drivers... have to work the roads for their livelihood. They must be allowed to do so unafraid of crime, to earn their honest living.'

He also rejected Lee's request.

Corpun file 16221

Straits Times, Singapore, 30 July 2005

Man molested 2 daughters

A FATHER of three who molested his two daughters has been sentenced to 36 months' jail and ordered to be given the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

The abuse began in 1998 when the man, now 45, was alone at home with his then 11-year-old daughter.

He asked her to remove her clothes and brassiere, and when she did so, fondled her breasts for about 10 minutes.

He repeated the act the following year, again when the girl was alone with him at their home in the western part of Singapore.

His younger daughter was not spared either - he molested her from February to April 2003. She was 14 years old then.

Each time, he woke her up in the middle of the night and asked her to step into the living room.

There, he lifted up her T-shirt and bra and squeezed her breasts for about 10 minutes.

On all three occasions, she was sleeping in the same room as his wife.

In May last year, she revealed what he had done during a counselling session.

The police arrested him after they were informed by a child protection officer with the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to five counts of molestation and one of having 32 obscene films at his home.

Ten other charges, including one under the Films Act, were taken into consideration.

Copyright 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

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