Ex-engineer gets nine months for cheating two women of luxury handbags

An unemployed woman was sentenced to nine months' jail on Wednesday for cheating two victims of $97,000 over the purchase of luxury Hermes handbags. Former engineer Goh Lee Yin, 32, is appealing against sentence and is out on bail pending her appeal.

In October last year she admitted to duping Ms Cindy Lestari, 22, of $67,500 and Ms Lynette Ong Pei Lin, 36, of $29,500 by making them believe that she had made Internet bank transfers of the amounts to their accounts for the purchase of two Hermes bags each in October and November 2011 respectively.

Another similar cheating charge and one of using another person's identity card to register for a SingTel pre-paid card phone line were considered during her sentencing. Her latest offences came just a couple of months after she was released from a six-week jail term for shoplifting $83 worth of goods at NTUC FairPrice Xtra at Ang Mo Kio Hub.

A special hearing was convened by Community Court Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan earlier this year to ascertain the position that the court should take in light of the conflicting medical opinions of Dr Tommy Tan and Dr Munidasa Winslow for the defence, and Dr Kenneth Koh for the prosecution. Both defence psychiatrists were of the view that Goh was suffering from a mental condition which had a causal link to the offences. But Dr Koh from the Institute of Mental Health found that Goh, who was previously diagnosed to suffer from kleptomania, was mildly depressed at the time of the offences, which had not contributed significantly to her current offences. He added that her offences showed careful planning, and organised, meticulous behaviour.

The judge accepted Dr Koh's opinion. He ruled out defence counsel's plea to call for a pre-sentence report, saying it was not wholly inappropriate.

Goh had been in and out of court since 2005 for theft and was twice given probation after being diagnosed with kleptomania, which causes sufferers to have the urge to steal.