Recalcitrant offender returns to life of crime after long prison term, pleads guilty to a string of offences

SINGAPORE - A recalcitrant offender who left prison in 2016 after serving a 12-year corrective training (CT) sentence returned to a life of crime, committing a string of offences including armed robbery and drug abuse.

CT is meted out to repeat offenders who are not eligible for the usual one-third remission for good behaviour. The maximum period for such a sentence is 14 years.

Chew Guan Mong, 45, who had been convicted earlier for robbery and housebreaking, pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Aug 28) to 16 charges for a range of offences including facilitating the retention of criminal conduct, armed robbery, vandalism and being in possession of a weapon. Twenty-five other charges will be considered during sentencing.

The court was told that Chew was involved in a kidnapping case in which he agreed to collect $80,000 in ransom from the victim's father in 2017.

He did so despite having reason to believe that the cash was linked to criminal conduct. Chew roped in another man, Alexander Tay Tong Sing, 23, to collect the cash on Aug 18, 2017.

The court heard that the kidnapping case involved a 41-year-old man called Goh Chun Kiat who made plans to illegally flee from Singapore after he was arrested over alleged cheating offences.

While out on bail, Goh contacted Malaysian Ng Tak Meng, 33, who is believed to be a member of a human trafficking syndicate, and agreed to pay the younger man $12,000 to facilitate his escape.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Chong said that Ng then arranged for six unidentified men to kidnap the Singaporean in Johor Baru and extort a ransom from Goh's family.

According to court documents, Goh unlawfully left Singapore by sea on Aug 17, 2017 and was later kidnapped in Malaysia.

Chew was then told to collect the $80,000 and, the next day, he directed Tay to meet Goh's father to collect the ransom.

The pair then took $1,000 each as their cut and passed the remaining $78,000 to Andrew Yeo Feng Hua, 28, who was sentenced to six months' jail in March for his role in the case .

Court documents did not reveal how Goh was released but he is back in Singapore and is currently facing more than 100 charges including cheating.

In a separate and unrelated case, Chew was driving a rented car along the Pan-Island Expressway at around 1.20pm on Jan 5 last year when it hit a bus, some guard railings and a wall.

The court heard that he had gone behind the wheel even though he had earlier been disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles.

He got out of the vehicle and ran towards a car driven by a 40-year-old woman. Armed with a sickle, he ordered her to alight and she complied out of fear.

Chew then drove to the Woodlands Checkpoint in her car but entered a lane for motorcycles by mistake and eventually got stuck.

DPP Chong said: "In his desperation to escape, he intentionally crashed through a traffic control barrier, which is public property belonging to (the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority) causing damage amounting to $6,516.30."

He was arrested soon after, the court heard.

On Wednesday, DPP Chong urged District Judge Ng Peng Hong to call for a report to assess Chew's suitability for preventive detention (PD).

PD is only for repeat offenders who are above 30 years old. Compared to CT, PD involves a longer period of incarceration, lasting up to 20 years.

The cases involving Goh and Tay are pending while Ng is still at large. Chew will be back in court on Sept 17.

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