Newton hearing for woman who cheated people of luxury bags underway

A Newton hearing is under way to determine if a woman has a mental disorder which had caused her to cheat people of luxury bags. Such hearings are held to resolve disputed points in a case and ascertain the correct basis for sentencing.

Goh Lee Yin, 31, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of cheating involving Hermes bags totalling $97,000. Community Court judge Shaiffudin Saruwan had called for the special hearing to resolve factual issues before passing the appropriate sentence.

The former engineer, who is now unemployed, faces a jail term of up to 10 years on each of the charges. She is no stranger to the courts having been in and out for shoplifting. She was previously diagnosed with kleptomania, an impulsive urge to steal.

One of her psychiatrists, Dr Tommy Tan, testified on Thursday that Goh was suffering from depressive personality disorder and needs long-term explorative psychotherapy. He felt that her personality disorder, which causes her to cope poorly with stress, was causally linked to her current set of offences. He described her as one of the most challenging patients he ever had.

When he saw her again in 2011, he said she was very depressed as she felt "abandoned'' by her last psychiatrist who had been treating her since 2003. Another psychiatrist from Changi General Hospital also did not want to treat her.

The prosecution's case is that Goh did not suffer from depressive personality disorder but was mildly depressed at the time of the offences. Her condition, they say, did not contribute significantly to the offences. The hearing continues.

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