Man gets jail, caning for slashing cabby

In May this year, Goh Tong Chien (above) suggested to his girlfriend, Eng, and his friend, Tan, that they find an old taxi driver to rob.
In May this year, Goh Tong Chien (above) suggested to his girlfriend, Eng, and his friend, Tan, that they find an old taxi driver to rob.

He, his girlfriend and their friend ended up hurting taxi driver during robbery bid

A 22-year-old man was sentenced to 22 months' jail and three strokes of the cane for slashing a cabby with a chopper and punching his aunt. Goh Tong Chien pleaded guilty to the two offences and theft.

Goh, his girlfriend Eng Wan Fong, also 22, and friend Tan Jing Zi, 23, had planned initially to rob the taxi driver. But the unemployed trio ended up hurting Mr Sazali Abdullah, 58, with the chopper near Chinese Cemetery Path 11 in Lim Chu Kang at 1am on May 14 this year.

Eng and Tan, who acted as lookouts, also admitted to the slashing incident and theft. They will be sentenced on Jan 26, pending probation reports.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Senthilkumaran Sabapathy said the trio talked about their financial and family woes at a block in Tampines at about 10pm on May 13.

Goh and Eng had brought along a chopper wrapped in newspaper and placed inside a green bag. Goh suggested they find an old taxi driver to rob, and the other two agreed.

At about midnight, they flagged Mr Sazali's Trans-Cab taxi and asked to go to the Chinese cemetery in Choa Chu Kang Road.

During the journey, Goh told Eng and Tan in Mandarin to be lookouts later while he used the chopper to hurt the victim and rob him.

When Mr Sazali arrived at Chinese Cemetery Path 11, both Eng and Tan dashed out of the taxi. Goh took out the chopper and started slashing the driver from behind.

Mr Sazali used his right hand to fend off the attacks, and suffered a cut each on his right index finger, forehead and lower lip. Goh got scared when he saw so much blood and fled.

Mr Sazali then drove to the main road and called the police. The trio were arrested three hours later.

The court also heard that on Feb 24 this year, Goh went home drunk. He later started shouting at his two aunts, asking where his cellphone was. A third aunt came out from her bedroom and said it was on the dining table. Goh walked to her bedroom and banged on her door.

One of his aunts, Ms Goh Bee Cheng, 55, then called the police. Goh shouted at her and punched her on the left eye, making it swell.

Goh's lawyer, Mr Rajan Supramaniam, said his client, who was diagnosed with alcohol and opioid dependence, grew up in troubling circumstances. His client was very sorry, he added. Goh had a previous conviction for hurting a public servant in the discharge of his duty.

DPP Sabapathy cited several aggravating factors, such as a high degree of premeditation on the trio's part, and that the victim was a vulnerable public transport worker .

District Judge Low Wee Ping told Goh he was very fortunate that the prosecution had changed the attempted robbery charge to causing hurt with a deadly weapon.

Goh could have been jailed for up to seven years, fined, caned or received any combination of the punishments. For voluntarily causing hurt, the maximum penalty is two years' jail and a $5,000 fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2015, with the headline 'Man gets jail, caning for slashing cabby'. Print Edition | Subscribe