SINGAPORE: A man who was in a stand-off with the police after robbing a woman of her car was sentenced on Thursday (Oct 3) to 15 years' preventive detention, the maximum 24 strokes of the cane and a year's driving ban.
Preventive detention is a harsh punishment that places a recalcitrant offender in jail for seven to 20 years in order to protect the public from the offender, and there is no reduction of the sentence for good behaviour.
Chew Guan Mong, 45, had pleaded guilty to 16 charges including armed robbery, drug-related offences and traffic violations, with another 25 charges taken into consideration for sentencing.
The incident that wound up in the stand-off began on the afternoon of Jan 5, 2018.
Chew, who had earlier been banned from driving for 30 years, side-swiped a bus and crashed his vehicle into railings and a wall before abandoning the vehicle and running away.
He then wrested control of a Mazda 6 from a woman along a slip road merging into Upper Bukit Timah Road, brandishing a sickle at her, and drove off to Woodlands Checkpoint.
He entered the motorcycle lane by accident and was stuck there with the narrowing road, and later crashed through a traffic control barrier and damaged the vehicle such that it could no longer be driven.
When confronted by police and other officers, Chew alighted the vehicle and brandished his sickle at them.
Other than the offences committed in this incident, Chew also admitted to being involved in three loan shark harassment cases, possessing a knuckle-duster and a flick knife, and consuming methamphetamine.
He was also involved in the handling of S$80,000 which was the ransom for a kidnapping orchestrated by criminals in Malaysia.
Defence lawyer Josephus Tan had called for 13 years' preventive detention to be imposed, along with 24 strokes of the cane.
This was two years fewer than what the prosecution asked for.
DEVASTATED BY PREGNANT WIFE'S ARREST, HE TRIED TO SET HIMSELF ON FIRE
Mr Tan argued that his client was "largely labouring under drug misuse" and was "devastated" by his pregnant wife's arrest. He had prepared to set himself on fire on the day of the stand-off and was not in "the clearest of mind".
The defence counsel said this was the first time Chew's offences involved drugs, and said he had been informed by a police officer that his wife had been arrested for allegedly being his accomplice in loan shark harassment.
"He was utterly devastated," said Mr Tan. "This was when Chew gave up on life, on himself, and went on to commit 17 offences all in the single fateful day of Jan 5, 2018."
He added that Chew had doused himself with kerosene just minutes before his arrest near Woodlands Checkpoint, and had tried to set himself on fire.
"This was the extent of his despair and sense of hopeless in his drug-influenced state," said Mr Tan, who represented Chew along with his colleague Cory Wong from Invictus Law.
The judge had called for a preventive report to be prepared, which found that Chew's risk of violent re-offending was high.
He had multiple convictions over the years, beginning with robbery and rioting when he was 18. After this, he continued to steal vehicles, breaking into houses and had previously been sentenced to corrective training.