A man who spent two decades on the run after robbing a businessman in 1996 was sentenced to four years’ jail at the State Courts on Wednesday (13 June).
Foo Siang Thian, 59, pleaded guilty to one charge of armed robbery and one charge of stealing a motorcycle. Foo was also disqualified from holding any motor vehicle license for three years from the time of his release from prison.
Another charge of motorcycle theft was taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Shana Poon told the court that Foo had been facing debts sometime in early 1996 when he suggested to his friend Lee Ai Eng that they should rob Lee’s former boss, Ang Teck Nguang.
Lee, who was then 36, knew that Ang made regularly scheduled visits to the OCBC bank branch at Block 65 Yung Kuang Road to withdraw money to pay his employees.
Foo and Lee stole a motorcycle for use during the robbery and Foo also roped in then 32-year-old How Meng Yan to help in the crime.
Around 11am on 5 July 1996, Ang withdrew $44,876, put the cash in an envelope and then walked towards his car, which was parked about 20m away.
Sensing that something was wrong, Ang tried to run back to bank branch but was stopped by How and Foo, who were armed with knives at the time. Out of fear, Ang dropped the cash-filled envelope, which was picked up by Foo and How.
The pair then ran to their motorcycle and sped off to meet Lee, who was waiting in a getaway car at a multi-storey carpark less than a kilometre away.
The men split the cash, with Foo receiving over $10,000. He then fled to Malaysia sometime in 1996 to avoid arrest. Lee and How were apprehended later that year and received jail sentences as well as caning.
Foo was repatriated in 1998 but he managed to escape to Malaysia once again. He surrendered himself to the Malaysian authorities only in March this year and was repatriated soon after.
DPP Poon, who asked for four years’ jail, noted that Foo would have been caned had he been convicted in 1996, as those above the age of 50 are ineligible for caning.
Lee and How had respectively received six strokes and 12 strokes of the cane on top of their jail terms.
In mitigation, defence counsel Siraz Shaik Aziz said that his client had turned himself in despite having suffered a stroke which left his right arm immobile.
Foo, whose elderly mother and sister were in court on Wednesday, might have never been caught had he not surrendered himself, said the lawyer, who asked for a sentence of no more than three years’ and six months’ jail.
District Judge Kenneth Yap said that there cannot be a situation in which “we have to look over our shoulders every time we come out of a bank”.
The judge noted that while Foo may have surrendered himself, this happened 22 years after the offences were committed.
He “cannot pick and choose his time of imprisonment,” said Yap.
Foo could have been jailed between two and 10 years and received at least six strokes of the cane for armed robbery.