Gangster jailed and caned for assault on 'innocent' men

A 40-year-old man and eight other gang members attacked two men having dinner with their family members at a hawker centre last May for "talking too loudly". Soh Ying Kuan and his accomplices rained punches and kicks and even used empty beer bottles to hit the victims' heads and backs while shouting their gang's slogan.

Although the injuries suffered by the two men were not serious, this did not save Soh from a long spell behind bars.

In passing sentence, District Judge Low Wee Ping said that while the usual penalty for gang-related rioting with no grievous hurt to victims was two-and-a-half years' jail and six strokes of the cane, he was sentencing Soh to four years in jail and six strokes of the cane because of "the manner (Soh) had executed the violence".

The judge pointed out that the victims were "innocent members of the public having dinner" and that the assault had left their family members "heavily traumatised".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Paul Wong had earlier told the court that on May 4 last year, Mr Yap Tian Seng, 49, a storekeeper, had invited his younger brother Yap Tien Sze, 39, and his family for dinner after prayers at a temple in Redhill.

The brother, his wife and their two daughters, joined Mr Yap and his wife at the Redhill Road Hawker Centre. Three of Mr Yap's friends, all in their sixties, were also present.

At 11pm, while they were toasting each other, Soh came over with his group. He swore and demanded to know why Mr Yap's group was talking so loudly as this was his gang's territory.

Mr Yap replied that it was a public place and that he did not want any trouble but this only sparked off the assault. Both brothers fell to the ground, where they tried to shield their heads with their hands.

However, they managed to clamber to their feet and flee. The attackers gave chase but were unable to catch the duo. On their return to the hawker centre, the assailants again shouted their gang's slogan.

Police believed that the group included odd-job workers Tay Poh Loon, 27, and Teo Mui Meng, 40, who are now on the run. The identities of the other six assailants remain unknown.

The maximum penalty for rioting is seven years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane.

khush@sph.com.sg

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