15-year preventive detention for man who robbed car with sickle, crashed it through Woodlands Checkpoint barrier

PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore
FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore

SINGAPORE — A man who robbed a car while armed with a sickle and crashed it through a traffic control barrier at Woodlands Checkpoint in January 2018 was given preventive detention of 15 years on Thursday (3 October).

Chew Guan Mong, 45, was also given the maximum 24 strokes of the cane, as well as a one-year driving ban.

The recalcitrant offender has a history of past convictions, dating back to armed robbery in 1994. He then committed a slew of other offences, including theft and housebreaking.

He was released from prison in 2016 after serving 12 years of corrective training for robbery and housebreaking.

Chew’s lawyer, Josephus Tan, sought no more than 13 years of preventive detention, while the prosecution sought a 15-year period, citing a report that placed Chew at a high risk of re-offending.

In sentencing Chew, District Judge Ng Peng Hong said that it was good that he had decided to change his life but for the protection of the public, a long period of preventive detention was necessary.

Preventive detention is a sentencing option meant to protect the public from recalcitrant offenders. Offenders serve a sentence of between seven and 20 years with no remission period.

Chew earlier pleaded guilty to 16 charges, from drug use and vandalism to driving under disqualification and possession of scheduled weapons.

Drove despite being banned

Between 1 and 4 January last year, Chew harassed and caused damage to 10 residents’ properties on behalf of unlicensed moneylenders.

On 5 January, despite being under a 30-year driving ban, Chew drove a rented car along the PIE towards Tuas. He swerved in a zig-zag manner between two lanes of the expressway.

Near the Clementi Road exit, Chew side-swiped an SMRT bus before veering to the left and bouncing off the left side wall.

Chew’s car then veered to the right and crashed into the centre guard railings, before veering to the left and crashing once more into the left side wall near the road shoulder.

He then abandoned the car and fled the scene on foot.

Brandished sickle at female driver

At about 1.30pm, Chew ran across the centre divider of the expressway carrying a bag containing a sickle, a rusty long knife and a bottle of kerosene. He then ran down the slip road merging into Upper Bukit Timah Road.

Near the end of the slip road, Chew ran up to a car which was stationary due to heavy traffic. He opened the driver’s door while brandishing the sickle in his right hand.

Chew shouted at the 40-year-old female driver to get out of the car and she complied. Chew then drove the stolen car towards the BKE and ended up at Woodlands Checkpoint. He mistakenly entered the motorcycle lane and got stuck due to the narrowing road.

Desperate for an escape, Chew tried to crash through a traffic control barrier belonging to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, causing $6,516.30 worth of damages. After repeatedly crashing through the barrier, the vehicle could no longer move.

Police, immigration and auxiliary police officers approached the car but Chew got out with his sickle and brandished the weapon at the officers. He was later subdued and arrested. A bag of drugs, later found to contain 3.11 grams of methamphetamine, was found on him.

Tried to set himself on fire: Defence

Minutes before his arrest, Chew had doused himself with kerosene in an attempt to set himself on fire, according to Tan.

“This was the extent of his despair and sense of hopelessness in his drug-influenced state,” said Tan. However the lighter was not working and Chew was later arrested.

Chew had been “utterly devastated” as his pregnant wife had been arrested on suspicion of being his accomplice in his loanshark activities. Under this state of mind, he went on to commit the offences on 5 January, said the lawyer.

His wife gave birth to the couple’s son on 14 August 2018 while Chew was in remand, and Chew has since found new meaning in life. Chew has not held his son since his birth.

In his one-page letter submitted to the court, Chew said that he wanted to finish his jail term and care for his family, especially his son.

Related story:

Man admits robbing car with sickle and crashing into checkpoint barrier while on drugs