Woman with shoplifting history found dead

Goh Lee Yin arriving in court in 2013. It is understood that she had a daughter in January last year.
Goh Lee Yin arriving in court in 2013. It is understood that she had a daughter in January last year.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Ex-engineer was facing nine charges of theft and fraudulent possession

A former engineer with a history of shoplifting was found dead at the foot of a block of flats in Sengkang on Monday, the day before a case against her was due to be heard.

Goh Lee Yin, 36, was facing nine charges of theft and fraudulent possession. A pre-trial conference had been scheduled on Tuesday.

Goh, who was charged in court last year, allegedly stole more than $30,000 worth of items in 2015, including clothing from brands such as Kenzo, Louis Vuitton and Prada, and even a Breville oven.

She was hauled to court for shoplifting in 2005 and 2007, and given probation after being diagnosed with kleptomania.

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People suffering from the condition have a recurrent urge to steal, although not for greed.

Goh was accused of similar offences twice in 2011 and was jailed for six weeks, but took to crime again less than three months after her release, scamming three victims out of six luxury bags worth $110,700. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months' jail which was later halved upon appeal.

 
 

A police spokesman said yesterday that a 36-year-old woman was found motionless at the foot of Block 405B, Fernvale Lane, around 6.50am, and was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.

Investigations are ongoing.

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The Straits Times yesterday visited Goh's wake at an HDB block in Buangkok Green. It is understood that she had lived there with her husband and daughter, who was born in January last year. Friends and family members were seen comforting one another at the wake.

At 8.20pm, around 40 people attended a 50-minute Christian service. Goh's family gathered around her casket at the end of the service.

Those at the wake asked for privacy and declined to comment.

Senior consultant psychiatrist Munidasa Winslow said: "She was a very pleasant young lady who had unfortunately developed dysfunctional behaviours to cope with her emotions."

Dr Winslow had testified in Goh's defence in 2013, saying then that if Goh was put in prison without "therapies that may work for her, we are actually condemning her to a long term because we will be seeing her forever and ever again".

Dr Rajesh Jacob, senior consultant psychiatrist at Promises Healthcare, told The Straits Times that while shoplifting is not a common symptom of depression, those who suffer from the condition may steal because it gives them a "temporary elevation of mood".

He said he has seen at least two patients who had depression and were found guilty of shoplifting, and whose conditions improved after being given a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO). Implemented in 2010, the MTO is a community sentencing option for offenders suffering from mental conditions which have contributed to their offence.

Offenders will not be sentenced to prison but will be asked to attend follow-up sessions at the Institute of Mental Health with psychiatrists and psychologists.

"Their condition improved with treatment such as medication and psychotherapy," said Dr Jacob.

•Additional reporting by Elena Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2017, with the headline 'Woman with shoplifting history found dead'. Print Edition | Subscribe