Preventive detention for recalcitrant offender

Andrew Tan Siew Kwong was sentenced to nine years'preventive detention on June 7, 2018, after pleading guilty last month to one count each of robbery and attempted robbery.
Andrew Tan Siew Kwong was sentenced to nine years'preventive detention on June 7, 2018, after pleading guilty last month to one count each of robbery and attempted robbery.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

60-year-old man given nine years behind bars for robbery and attempted robbery

A jobless man, who had been in and out of jail for 40 years, is behind bars again after robbing a woman of a pouch worth less than $15, and which contained a packet of tissue paper. Andrew Tan Siew Kwong also attempted a rob a second woman of her handbag.

The 60-year-old man was sentenced to nine years' preventive detention yesterday after pleading guilty last month to one count each of robbery and attempted robbery. Preventive detention, which can last seven to 20 years, is for recalcitrant offenders. They must serve the full sentence with no reduction for good behaviour.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hui Jia Lun told District Judge Edgar Foo that Tan was first jailed for robbery in 1979.

For a similar offence, he was later given seven years of corrective training with six strokes of the cane in 2006. Corrective training is a prison regime for repeat offenders without the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.

After his release in 2013, he abused drugs and was given two years' jail in 2014. He was last released in 2016.

In the latest offences, a 57-year-old woman was in a lift with her one-year-old grandson at Block 622A Punggol Central at around 9.45am on Oct 24 last year when Tan stepped in.

As the lift was going up, he suddenly whipped out a knife, pointed it at her waist and demanded money. She replied that she was not carrying any cash.

The woman did not move out of fear as the weapon was touching her. Tan then took her pouch valued at $14.20 which contained a packet of tissue paper. He bolted when the lift doors opened.

About two hours later, he approached a 37-year-old woman at a bus stop near Block 612B Punggol Central, grabbed her right shoulder and warned her not to move. She turned around to discover that Tan was armed with a knife.

DPP Hui said: "The accused pointed the knife with a blade measuring about 9cm in length at the victim's right hip. The victim then pushed the accused away but fell to the ground as it was slippery. As a result, she suffered a cut on her left arm.

"The accused tried to approach the victim again. However, the victim used her umbrella to push the accused person away."

Tan fled the scene empty-handed. Both women alerted the police later that day.

Defence lawyer Melvin Loh, who was assigned to the case under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, told the court that his client wished to apologise for what he had done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2018, with the headline 'Preventive detention for recalcitrant offender'. Print Edition | Subscribe