Man gets jail and cane for slashing debt collector with axe

SINGAPORE - A former taxi driver who attacked a debt collector with an axe was sentenced to 21 months' jail and three strokes of the cane on Thursday.

Chong Chee Hiong, 40, now unemployed, had admitted slashing the face and legs of Mr Sandy Tan Xin Sheng, 24, outside his flat in Woodlands Drive 44 on Feb 13 this year.

The court heard that at about 11pm that day, Mr Tan, who was working part-time for Oasis Credit, was directed by his employer to collect a debt of $120 from Chong. This was the second time the victim had gone to Chong's home.

The victim knocked on the door and Chong opened it after some time. He asked the victim if he knew what time it was. The victim said as Chong did not want to pay him, he had to come "regardless of the time'', as that was his job.

After unlocking the gate, the duo spoke at the corridor. While they were talking, Chong turned his back towards the victim, bent down and retrieved a hand-axe hidden behind the shoe cabinet.

Chong then slashed the victim's face with the weapon. When the victim fell, he slashed his legs. He then dropped the axe and kicked the victim a few times.

The victim was warded in hospital for two days for a 4cm cut on his face and two cuts on his left calf. He was discharged with a left knee brace.

District Judge Carol Ling noted that the victim did not have any permanent injuries. She said Chong had helped the victim by offering him iodine.

The victim, she said, was doing his job but came at an "unwelcoming hour designed to annoy'' to collect a $120 debt.

While the offence was not pre-meditated, Judge Ling said the sentence should reflect the seriousness of the matter and should not be condoned.

Chong could have been jailed for up to seven years, fined, caned or received any combined punishment.