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

Traffic on the Woodlands Causeway. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
Traffic on the Woodlands Causeway. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — He was high on drugs and out on bail when he robbed a car armed with a sickle and crashed it through a traffic control barrier at Woodlands Checkpoint in January last year.

At the State Courts on Wednesday (28 August), Chew Guan Mong, 45, pleaded guilty to a string of 16 crimes ranging from drug use and vandalism to driving under disqualification and possession of scheduled weapons.

The Singaporean also admitted to another 25 charges to be considered for his sentencing at a later date.

Drove despite 30-year ban

On 5 January last year, Chew drove a rented car along the PIE towards Tuas at about 1.20pm. 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.

At the time, Chew was under a 30-year driving ban which took effect from 4 August 2004. He had previous convictions - in 1996, 1998 and 2004 - for driving while under disqualification.

Robbed car with sickle

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. Fearing for her safety, she complied.

Crashed into checkpoint barrier

Chew drove the stolen car towards the BKE and ended up at Woodlands Checkpoint. But he mistakenly entered the motorcycle lane and got stuck due to the narrowing road.

Desperate to escape, Chew deliberately crashed through a traffic control barrier belonging to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, causing $6,516.30 worth of damages.

After repeatedly crashing the car 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 in his hands. He brandished the weapon and warned them not to approach him.

Chew was eventually subdued and arrested. A bag of drugs, later found to contain 3.11 grams of methamphetamine, was found on him.

Took drugs, kept weapons

At the time, Chew had already been charged with drug taking.

On 1 August 2017, he was arrested by anti-narcotics officers in his home. The officers found packets of drugs containing a total of 33.14 grams of methamphetamine. Chew was released on station bail pending investigations.

But the next week, on 7 August, he used a forged driving licence to rent a car. Chew bought the forged document for $400.

Later that month, on 20 August, Chew was arrested by policemen near the Safra clubhouse along Lorong 6 Toa Payoh for suspected drug use.

His urine later tested positive for methamphetamine.

A flick knife and a knuckle duster was also found on him. Chew claimed that he carried the weapons for self defence. He was later released on court bail pending investigations.

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

Helped to retain criminal funds

Two days before Chew was arrested near the Safra clubhouse for drug use, he also played a role in helping to retain criminal funds on behalf of alleged kidnappers.

The 41-year-old kidnapped victim, Goh Chun Kiat, was under police investigation for cheating offences, the court heard.

After being released on bail, Goh allegedly contacted James Ng Tak Meng, 33, a Malaysian who was purportedly part of a human trafficking syndicate.

Goh allegedly agreed to pay Ng $12,000 to get him to Malaysia by sea on 17 August 2017, following which he was to be sent Thailand by land.

But Ng purportedly conspired with Chris Tan Kin Onn, 27, who is also Malaysian, to extort ransom from Goh’s family.

On 17 August, Goh was allegedly ferried from Changi Jetty to an offshore kelong by speedboat, and then on to Johor Bahru, where he was driven to another location.

Acting on the plan by Ng and Tan, six unknown men kidnapped Goh, assaulted him, and demanded over half a million dollars in ransom. The sum was whittled down to $80,000 after negotiations with the victim’s father, 63.

Through third parties, Tan allegedly arranged for the ransom to be collected. The job eventually went to Chew, who would get a $2,000 cut.

Chew roped in a friend, Alexander Tay Tong Sing, 23, a Singaporean, whom he promised half of his commission for the job.

Chew and Tay collected the ransom money from the victim’s father in the early hours of 18 August 2017. After pocketing their share, Chew passed the remaining money to Andrew Yeo Feng Hua, 28, a Singaporean, soon after.

Goh’s father made a police report about his missing son and the ransom that was paid later the same day.

Goh is back in Singapore. His case and that of Tay are pending.

Yeo has been jailed six months for his role. Ng is at large while Tan is in Malaysia.

Possibility of preventive detention

District Judge Ng Peng Hong adjourned Chew’s sentencing, pending an assessment of his suitability for preventive detention.

Chew had been released from prison in 2016 after serving corrective training of 12 years for robbery and housebreaking. The sentence for corrective training, which is imposed on recalcitrant offenders with the aim of reforming them and lasts between five and 14 years, must be served in full with no remission for good behaviour.

The courts can also sentence recalcitrant offenders to preventive detention for a period of between seven and 20 years, with the aim of protecting the public. Like corrective training, offenders sentenced to preventive detention must serve their sentence in full with no remission for good behaviour.

The punishment for robbery during the daytime is between two and 10 years’ jail with at least six strokes of the cane. The penalty for committing robbery while armed with a deadly weapon is at least 12 additional strokes of the cane.

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