Poverty is no excuse to commit crime, says Judge

Financial hardship cannot be an excuse to commit crime, said District Judge Eddy Tham on Monday when sentencing Ricky Foo Kee Kiong, 31, to five months in jail and a $30,000 fine.

The 31-year-old had pleaded guilty to obstructing the course of justice by acting as a lookout for a Geylang vice syndicate, living on the earnings of prostitution, and assisting a loan shark. His lawyer in his defence said that his client was "trapped in poverty" and had to pay his mother's medial bills.

He was being investigated for performing fund transfers and cash withdrawals for a loan shark when he went to work for a pimp in March last year. His role was to ride his motorcycle in the Geylang area and warn the pimp of any police presence. For this, he was paid $50 a day. He was arrested on July 13 last year. While out on police bail he became a pimp.

He was found out when police officers raided a lodging house at Jalan Molek in Geylang on Sept 6 last year and detained two Vietnamese prostitutes. Foo's cell phone number surfaced during investigations and one of the women told police that she had handed about $900 of her prostitution earnings to him between Aug 4 and Sept 6 last year.

Defence counsel Foo Ho Chew said that his client committed the offences to pay the medical fees of his cancer stricken mother and the instalments of the family's five-room flat in Teck Whye. The father is estranged.

With only a Secondary 2 education, good jobs were hard to find for Foo, said the lawyer.

Judge Tham said: "Such financial difficulties cannot be sufficient reason to commit crime" and added that there were legitimate avenues to seek help.