SINGAPORE: A recalcitrant criminal who has been committing offences since 1973 pleaded guilty on Thursday (Dec 20) to armed robbery and theft.
Mohammad Kassim Hussein, who was jobless and homeless, hatched a plot with his ex-colleague Shanmugam Koval, 40, to rob the latter's ex-girlfriend, who was also homeless.
The victim, 21-year-old Malaysian national Thanusha Palaniandy, worked as a cleaner at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh and frequently slept there.
Ms Thanusha had dated Shanmugam for a while, but things went sour when she reported him to the police for allegedly stealing her money.
Shanmugam lost his job as a cleaner as a result, and took up a part-time job washing dishes also at the HDB Hub.
He went to Kassim, who was his former colleague, and suggested that they steal money and two gold chains from Ms Thanusha and split the loot.
Kassim agreed and Shanmugam showed him the places where his ex-girlfriend frequently slept near Toa Payoh HDB Hub, along with the routes to take to avoid detection by closed-circuit television cameras.
ACCUSED ARMED HIMSELF WITH KITCHEN KNIFE
At about 1am on Aug 12, the two men went to the basement of the HDB Hub, where Ms Thanusha was sleeping.
Kassim, who was armed with a kitchen knife, stole a mobile phone worth S$129 from Ms Thanusha while she slept.
However, Shanmugam said that he wanted her gold chain instead, so Kassim approached Ms Thanusha again, tapping her leg to wake her up.
When she woke, it was to Kassim brandishing a kitchen knife at her. He reached down and pulled the two gold chains she wore around her neck, and they broke in the ensuing struggle.
While they were tussling, Ms Thanusha's wallet fell out from her bra and Kassim took this too.
He then demanded that she surrender five gold rings she wore on her fingers, threatening to cut off her fingers, but she refused, kicking him and making her escape.
She sought help from a security officer, who called the police.
In total, Kassim stole S$3,869 worth of items from Ms Thanusha, including cash, the gold chains and a variety of ATM cards.
He was arrested a day later, while a police gazette was issued for his accomplice, who remains at large.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Lim called for preventive detention for Kassim - a stiff jail sentence with no remission used for hardened criminals.
He said Kassim was "beyond redemption", pointing out his long list of previous offences which began from 1973, with his most recent conviction just this year.
Kassim, who was unrepresented, said through an interpreter that he was aged and asked for sympathy and leniency.
District Judge Ng Peng Hong called for a preventive detention report.
Sentencing is set for Jan 10.