A retiree not only snatched a gold necklace off a woman, he was able to escape from two much younger pursuers. But police managed to trace him through his mobile phone which led to his arrest. On Monday, Woon Yin Meng, 78, was fined a total of $5,000 for theft and causing hurt to Madam Tang Sweet Kun.
A community court heard that Woon was living with his son in the Maysprings condominium in Bukit Panjang. On April 21 last year, while returning to the apartment at 8am, he noticed Madam Tang, 76, who was carrying bags of groceries and had a gold necklace around her neck.
Woon followed her and at the void deck along Gangsa Road, he grabbed her neck with his left hand and ripped off the necklace with the other. He also pushed her forward, causing her to fall to the floor and bruising her forehead.
Two passers-by, aged 46 and 52 years old, cornered him but he threatened them with a kitchen knife and fled into the condominium. They gave chase but lost sight of him. Woon, however, dropped his mobile phone while getting away. Police used it to establish his identity and arrested him five hours later. He also dropped the necklace and it was never recovered. Its value could not be determined.
Asking the court to impose a fine, defence counsel Sankar Saminathan said that Woon was a gambling addict and had committed the offences after his son refused to give him money. He had received counselling at the Institute of Mental Health and has stopped gambling, the lawyer added.
In passing sentence, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said that he agreed with defence counsel that a jail term would not be appropriate and a high fine would suffice. The maximum penalty for theft is a three-year jail term and a $10,000 fine and for causing hurt is a two-year jail term and a $5,000 fine.
The two charges for committing criminal intimidation by threatening the two bystanders with a knife were taken into consideration by the judge when passing sentence.