SINGAPORE - The man who helped one of Singapore's most notorious gangsters flee the country after a gangland-style shooting of a nightclub owner was on Wednesday (Aug 10) jailed for 20 months - a decade after the crime.
Malaysian Ho Yueh Keong had fetched the killer from the Woodlands Checkpoint the day before the shooting and had also taken him back the same way about an hour after the killing.
The murder on Feb 15, 2006, sparked an international manhunt for Tan Chor Jin in which he repeatedly shot Mr Lim Hock Soon in his Serangoon Avenue 4 flat.
Tan, dubbed the "One-eyed Dragon" as he was blind in one eye, was nabbed 10 days later in a Kuala Lumpur hotel. He was found guilty of discharging a firearm and hanged in 2009 at the age of 42.
But Ho remained at large for nine years and was caught only when he tried to leave Malaysia for Batam. He was extradited in July last year.
Ho, now 43, pleaded guilty on Monday to one charge of harbouring a fugitive. Another count of concealing information about the murder was considered by District Judge Tan Jen Tse in sentencing.
The prosecution on Wednesday (Aug 10) asked that Ho be jailed between 18 and 24 months. Lawyer Kertar Singh asked for between 15 and 18 months' jail.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien pointed to the severity of Tan's crime - he had fired six shots at Mr Lim at close range.
Thereafter, she said, not only did Ho drive Tan out of the country, he did not surrender or give information to the authorities about the murder for almost a decade.
"This is not a case of mere inadvertence to inform the authorities; (Ho) wilfully and deliberately withheld such information, for fear of the consequences that would certainly follow to himself," she said.
"His continued silence about the commission of the offences for the next nine years, shows an utter lack of remorse", she added.
Mr Singh, meanwhile, told the court that Ho, who is unemployed, is married with a three-year-old child and the sole breadwinner of his family in Johor. He also pays maintenance for his two children from his previous wife.
When Ho realised Tan had killed Mr Lim, he was shocked. "The sudden revelation stunned ... and unsettled him. His mind was in a whirl; he was unable to think straight and did not know what to do."
"He found himself between the devil and the deep blue sea; all sorts of thoughts went through his mind," said Mr Singh.
And when Ho later found out about Tan's arrest, he took it to mean that the matter was closed.
Tan, better known as Tony Kia to his associates, was part of the Ang Soon Tong gang which operated in both Malaysia and Singapore. He often hired Ho to drive him from Malaysia to Singapore. Ho would be paid $50 to $100.
In late 2005, Tan bought a Beretta pistol. He told Ho in January 2006 that he wanted to kill Mr Lim.
On Feb 14, 2006, Tan asked Ho to drive him from Malaysia to Singapore. Tan said he might meet Mr Lim, but did not say why. They spent the night in a flat at Block 515 in Hougang Avenue 10.
The next day, Tan fired six rounds from his pistol into Mr Lim at his flat at about 7am, after he had made Mr Lim tie up his wife, maid and teenage daughter. Five bullets hit Mr Lim. Tan then returned to Hougang, woke Ho up and asked him to drive him back to Malaysia.
While in the car, Tan told someone over the phone he had killed Mr Lim. Ho asked Tan if he really did so. Tan admitted to the murder and said he threw the pistol into a river.
Ho drove Tan into Malaysia at about 8.20am and they headed for Ho's home in Larkin, Johor Baru. He later drove Tan to Penang in the latter's BMW before they headed back to Muar in Johor. Tan gave him RM500 before they separated.
A few days later, Ho called Tan to say he wished to surrender, but Tan told him not to do so and he obeyed.
Ho's sentence was backdated to his remand date on July 15 last year. He could have been jailed for five years and fined.