Jail for ex-teacher who cheated girlfriend

A former teacher told his girlfriend that he needed money as capital for "investments" and duped her into handing over cash totalling more than $178,000.

Gary Won Han Kiat, 35, who taught from 2011 to 2013, was sentenced to two years and a month in jail yesterday. Won, who is jobless, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of cheating. He committed the offences between 2015 and 2017. Thirty-eight other charges for similar offences were taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that Won's relationship with receptionist Leong Shi Min, 26, lasted two years. They first met via messaging app WeChat in 2015. Won lied to Ms Leong, claiming to be a contractor, and on Oct 23 that year, he asked her for $4,000 on the pretext that he needed the funds as capital for work investments. She believed him and transferred the money to his bank account.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jessie Lim said Won had no intention of using the money as work-related investments. Instead, he purchased $3,950 worth of chips at the Resorts World Sentosa casino the next day and gambled away the money.

He continued to ask her for more money after this, the court heard.

DPP Lim said: "In all instances, the accused deceived the complainant... by stating that he required the sums for his work investments when in reality they were used to fund his gambling habit.

"Around Nov 19, 2015, having dipped into her personal savings to deliver moneys to the accused, the complainant then resorted to asking her mother for help when the accused asked for more (cash)."

Ms Leong's mother agreed to help and even cashed out her personal insurance policy so that she could pass the money to her daughter. Ms Leong would then hand over the funds to Won.

Court documents did not show how his offences came to light, but the couple's relationship ended around May 2017. She alerted the police on Nov 2 that year, saying Won had cheated her of cash on numerous occasions.

DPP Lim said Won had made restitution of more than $12,000. She urged District Judge John Ng to sentence Won to two years and three months in jail. She said the case involved a large sum of money and Won had abused Ms Leong's trust.

Defence lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy pleaded for a jail sentence of a year and eight months, saying Won had pleaded guilty to his offences at an early opportunity. Won was offered bail of $20,000. He has to surrender himself at the State Courts next Monday to begin serving his sentence.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2019, with the headline Jail for ex-teacher who cheated girlfriend. Subscribe