Robber guilty of causing elderly victim's death

A 22-year-old jobless man followed a frail 88-year-old woman back to her block of flats after he noticed her buying food at a Teck Whye Lane coffee shop in April 2014.

Muhammad Fazrie Mohamad Ridzuan got into the lift with Madam Lee Ping Yeng, greeted her and uttered "Sorry Auntie" before snatching her purse. She lost her balance and fell out of the lift, hitting the back of her head on the floor. Neighbours found Madam Lee lying motionless and called for an ambulance. But she succumbed to her head injuries and died in hospital three days later.

Yesterday, Fazrie was sentenced to nine years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to hurting Madam Lee while robbing her on April 12, 2014. The incident was caught on the lift's surveillance camera and Fazrie was arrested on April 28.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Min Ping sought a jail term of 10 years, pointing to how Fazrie had deliberately preyed on the victim, knowing she was frail and elderly.

Fazrie's lawyer, Mr James Masih, asked for six years, arguing that his client never intended to hurt the victim as he had planned to only snatch the purse and run off. While making his getaway, Fazrie found $22 inside the purse and he later handed the cash to his girlfriend, the court heard earlier.

The lawyer said his client wanted to apologise to the family of the victim.

Justice Choo Han Teck agreed with the DPP's sentencing submissions, but given that this was Fazrie's first offence as an adult, imposed a jail term of nine years. Fazrie has criminal records for housebreaking and theft. The judge cautioned him: "Take this as a final chance."

Yesterday, more than a dozen of Madam Lee's family members were in court but they declined to speak to the media.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Robber guilty of causing elderly victim's death'. Print Edition | Subscribe