Man gets six years for 1989 gang robbery in Upper Bukit Timah Road

Thoo Ing Lai was given six years' jail on Friday (Aug 19) for taking part in a gang robbery 27 years ago at a second-hand vehicle business in Upper Bukit Timah Road.
Thoo Ing Lai was given six years' jail on Friday (Aug 19) for taking part in a gang robbery 27 years ago at a second-hand vehicle business in Upper Bukit Timah Road.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Malaysian man who took part in a gang robbery 27 years ago at a second-hand vehicle business in Upper Bukit Timah Road was given six years' jail on Friday (Aug 19).

Now 54, Thoo Ing Lai was 27 when he and four others took part in the robbery involving cash and property totalling about $29,000 at Eng Chee Trading Company on March 2, 1989.

Thoo admitted to two gang robbery charges with three others, including an offence under the Armed Offences Act, which was taken into consideration during his sentencing.

He was extradited here on April 17 in 2015 after he was arrested by the Malaysian police.

A district court heard that Thoo and his first accomplice had entered the premises at Hokkien Kong Huay Building on March 2, 1989. They told Mr Ang Tek Hing, the partner and manager of the company, that they wanted to buy a Mazda car.

While they were negotiating, the other three robbers subsequently came in and said they were friends of the two men.

Shortly later, the first accomplice gave the command for the robbery to commence. He took an object which appeared to be a short barrel revolver and pointed it at Mr Ang and demanded that he unlock the safe.

One of the robbers came and took away the cash in the safe.

Mr Ang's younger brother, Mr Ang Teio Waet, had cash and property amounting to $10,046 taken from him. A staff member was also robbed of cash.

The older Mr Ang resisted when the first accomplice tried to take his gold chain and was hit on the head.

The robbers blindfolded, gagged and bound the victims.

Thoo approached the Angs' pregnant niece, blindfolded and bound her before removing her gold chain worth $360.

The five fled in their car and left for Johor Baru. The four unknown men are still at large.

In mitigation, Thoo's lawyer Lim Poh Choo said her client was living in Johor Baru with his girlfriend in 1989 when he met the other men at a gambling den. On learning that he spoke Hokkien, they told Thoo that they wished to buy a car in Singapore.

They offered him $300 (Singapore dollars) to help them in negotiating the price of the car.

Ms Lim said Thoo had deliberately left his thumbprints on the masking tape so that he could be tracked down and also to indicate that he was innocent.

The lawyer said her client, who has been in ill health in recent years, was deeply regretful that the robbery took place and that he had unwittingly been a part of it. He did not profit from the robbery and was a victim of circumstance, she added.

The maximum penalty for gang robbery is 20 years' jail and caning of at least 12 strokes.