SINGAPORE - Sales executive Lee Sze Yong was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday (Dec 1) after the High Court found him guilty of kidnapping the elderly mother of Sheng Siong supermarket boss Lim Hock Chee in January 2014.
Lee, 44, was also given three strokes of the cane.
In a letter to the court, Lee had asked to be given the death penalty instead of "deprivation of liberty for the rest of my life".
"I have ruined my life. By dying, I hope that I have repaid my debt and to be at peace," he said in the handwritten letter.
Lee made the plea even though both his lawyer and the prosecutors concurred that he should get life imprisonment and three strokes of the cane.
In sentencing Lee, Justice Chan Seng Onn told him that he must not despair and that "there is still hope at the end of the day", as the law allows for a review of his life term after he has served 20 years.
Lee, who had harboured plans for years to kidnap the rich in Singapore, did not deny that he had abducted Madam Ng Lye Poh, who was then 79.
He admitted he had tricked Madam Ng into getting into his rented car after telling her that her son had a fall in the office. She was later blindfolded and driven around for 12 hours.
Lee called Mr Lim and sought ransom of $20 million but the sum was negotiated down to $2 million.
Madam Ng was released after Mr Lim dropped off a bag with the cash in Sembawang Park. Lee was arrested in Ang Mo Kio shortly after and led the police to the bag he had thrown into bushes.
While he admitted the acts, he disputed the mental element of the offence. He maintained in court that he would have released the elderly woman, who was diabetic, by the end of that same night, even if no ransom was paid.
His lawyer, Mr Selva K. Naidu, had argued that Lee was not guilty under the Kidnapping Act as he had intended to release Madam Ng regardless of whether he received the ransom.
But Justice Chan rejected this contention, saying that the defence's interpretation of the law was "unduly restrictive" and "untenable".
During his trial, Lee admitted that he got his friend and former sexual partner, Heng Chen Boon, 52, to help him swop cars and guard the victim by threatening to expose their previous relationship. Mr Heng, who has served a three-year jail term for helping Lee abduct Madam Ng, took the stand as a prosecution witness.