Stiffer sentence sought for card cheat

SMU graduate given 14-day short detention order and 220 hours of community service

Prosecutors wanted a credit-card cheat to be put behind bars for three months, but the court decided instead to give the newly minted Singapore Management University (SMU) graduate a short detention order of 14 days and 220 hours of community service.

The prosecution is now appealing against the sentence given to Goh Bing Kun, 27.

Goh had admitted using a debit card found by an accomplice at Zouk on Jan 24, 2015 - both men used it to buy drinks. The next day, they used the card again to buy other items, including two iPhones from a store in Bencoolen Street.

Goh , who was once awarded National Serviceman of the Year while he was with the 1st Commando Battalion, was then studying at SMU. He recently graduated and is now a management trainee.

The police nabbed him and his accomplice J Xander Roslan, 28, about two weeks after the card owner, Mr Evan Kong, 24, reported the unauthorised transactions. Roslan is due to be dealt with separately.

Goh admitted to three charges - two for cheating and one for misappropriating the debit card. Eight other charges were taken into consideration. All were for cheating to induce the delivery of property.

Goh paid back the total sum lost by Mr Kong, which amounted to $3,945.95, in July 2015.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Bryan Leow argued that the offences were serious enough for Goh to be jailed for three weeks and two months respectively for the two cheating charges, and one month for the misappropriation charge, with the latter two terms to run consecutively.

But Goh's lawyer James Ow Yong countered that rehabilitation should be the dominant sentencing consideration.

"Deterrence is well achieved through community-based sentences (CBS)," he said, adding that Goh is progressing well in his career, among other things.

In judgment grounds issued earlier this month, District Judge Low Wee Ping agreed that CBS was appropriate.

It "can achieve an even stronger deterrent effect with a short period of incarceration, while not extend to such a long period as to jeopardise the accused's career and future prospects", the judge said.

He noted that Goh had voluntarily sought counselling and taken ownership of his mistakes, and he accepted that Goh was " significantly remorseful".

Goh's sentence has been stayed pending the appeal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Stiffer sentence sought for card cheat'. Print Edition | Subscribe