Cabby jailed, caned for attempted robbery and harassment

A cabby hooked on gambling, went from borrowing from loan sharks to armed robbery and to harassing other debtors.

Melvin Ong Hwee Ann was sentenced on Friday to nine years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane.

A district court heard that Ong, 38, a Premier Taxi cabby, would frequent the casino at Resorts World Sentosa.

To fuel his gambling habit, he went on a borrowing spree from loan sharks. When they demanded payment, he tried to rob British housewife Karen Louise Holland at knife point in the car park of Tanglin Mall at 4.40pm on July 29 last year.

The 46-year-old British national was with her 13-month-old son and seven-year-old daughter. Another motorist walking by threw four $50 notes on the floor and told Ong to take that money instead but the cabby persisted in trying to grab the handbag that was in the car.

He also tried to drive her vehicle away and in the struggle, Ms Holland suffered a 2cm-long cut on the waist. It was only when a security officer came to her aid, did Ong grab the $200 on the floor and run off.

About a week later, he started harassing other debtors of the loan sharks in an attempt to pay off his loans. Using his taxi to drive to his victims' homes, he splashed paint or locked the metal gates and scribbled graffiti on 129 occasions throughout the island in August alone. He was paid between $70 and $120 for each flat and the money went to offset his loans.