Man given 11 years’ preventive detention for latest crime tells court: You hang me better

Young Tat Ong was earlier convicted on one count of using the fake notes. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: MAS

SINGAPORE - An elderly man who had tried to deposit three fake $10,000 notes asked the court to hang him, saying it was better than having to serve a long sentence.

Young Tat Ong, 66, was sentenced to 11 years of preventive detention on Wednesday.

He was earlier convicted on one count of using the fake notes. Another charge for possession of counterfeit notes was taken into consideration for sentencing.

Young had agreed to help a Vietnamese man exchange the fake Singapore $10,000 portrait-series notes for smaller denominations for a commission.

He got to know Dinh Dai Quang, 39, who claimed to be a high-ranking government official in Vietnam, through an online acquaintance.

Dinh told Young he had access to a government warehouse, and that the notes were purportedly payment from the Singapore Government to Vietnam for investments.

He asked Young to help exchange the notes for smaller denominations, promising him a commission of $4,000 per note.

Young had strong suspicions the notes were fake, and knew that Dinh had concealed the notes when passing through Customs checks at Changi Airport when he entered Singapore in March.

He got Dinh to sign an agreement stating that he must assume legal liability as the rightful owner of the notes.

On March 22, Young went to a DBS Bank outlet and tried to deposit the notes but was caught when the bank staff became suspicious and called the police.

He pleaded guilty in September.

The court was told Young had been convicted seven times since the age of 16 of various crimes, including similar cheating and forgery offences.

The judge had previously called for a report to determine if he was suitable for preventive detention, which involves being detained in prison for between seven and 20 years. It is usually imposed on recalcitrant offenders for the protection of the public.

Following the report, the prosecution asked the court to sentence him to 11 to 12 years of preventive detention.

Addressing the court on Wednesday morning, Young said he would rather be hanged.

“Please give me a last chance, give me a normal sentence. You say 11 years, might as well you hang me better... 11 years I dead already. You hang me better... you hang me,” he added.

District Judge Paul Chan then stood down the case to Wednesday afternoon.

When the hearing resumed, Young launched into a long rant, asking the court to call for another round of assessment to determine his suitability for preventive detention, saying it was not fair.

He also claimed to be a good man, and that his offences did not hurt anyone.

The judge tried to stop Young, but he ultimately had to have all parties muted before giving his brief grounds of decision.

Judge Chan said Young was a “recalcitrant, habitual offender”, who for four decades has been “unable to resist” a life of crime, with a “deeply ingrained propensity to cheat and deceive”.

He added that Young “could not even begin to understand why he should be remorseful”, and that his thinking pattern was “concerning and troubling in the extreme”.

The judge said one of the factors that persuaded him in deciding on the sentence was the need for the protection of the public.

Dinh’s case is still before the courts.

For engaging in a conspiracy to use counterfeit currency as genuine money, an offender can be jailed for up to 20 years and fined.

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