Recalcitrant offender who posed as cop to cheat prostitute gets preventive detention

Singapore State Courts (AFP Photo/Mohd Fyrol)

Despite having served 12 years of preventive detention for robbery, he committed a slew of offences ranging from impersonating a cop to cheat a prostitute to verbally abusing an investigating officer.

On Tuesday (19 June), Tang Hian Leng, 47, was sentenced in the State Courts to seven years of preventive detention again after he pleaded guilty to one count each of cheating by personation, criminal breach of trust, voluntarily causing hurt, and using abusive words. Two counts of cheating and one count of criminal trespass were considered for his sentencing.

Preventive detention is a prison sentence reserved for recalcitrant offenders and has no remission for good behaviour, unlike normal jail terms.

In sentencing Tang, District Judge Ow Yong Tuck Leong noted that Tang had been offending since he was 15 years old on multiple offences including molest, criminal intimidation, housebreaking, robbery, and snatch theft.

“You were released and you found employment but you stole from your employer,” said Judge Ow, adding that Tang showed a “blatant disregard for the law”.

While employed as a minimart cashier, Tang misappropriated a total of $4,154.10 between 14 July and 23 July last year from the shop’s cash register and safe box. He has not made any restitution. A police report was lodged against him on 20 July.

On 14 August 2016, Tang got into a fight with another man at a coffeeshop in Bukit Batok Street 31 over a female masseur working in a spa. He was caught by a police officer for throwing punches at the man with another co-accused.

Tang was charged for these offences on 26 July last year but went on to re-offend by posing as an undercover police officer to cheat a sex worker of her fee while he was on bail.

Tang first contacted the woman after seeing her online advertisement for sexual services. The two met on 21 October last year at a flat in Choa Chu Kang where they had sexual intercourse after Tang paid $100. After the act, Tang told the woman that he was a police officer investigating the flat owner for vice activities.

He demanded that the woman return the money, which he claimed belonged to the government and was to be used as evidence. He added that the flat owner had been detained and that the woman had to identify him at the police station or else she would be imprisoned and her property confiscated.

Believing him, the woman returned the money. Tang later asked for sex a again and the woman complied. The woman later made a police report after suspecting that Tang had deceived her.

While remanded at Changi Prison Complex on 19 January this year, Tang became agitated and insulted a station inspector who wanted to record his statement and serve him charges.

Tang began offending in 1986 when he was given two-year probation for theft. He later served jail terms for other offences, including extortion, theft and criminal intimidation.

For his current offences, he was found physically and mentally suitable for preventive detention in a report.

While being brought away, Tang, shouted at the judge in Mandarin, “Can’t you give me a chance? God gave me a chance but you won’t give me a chance.”

His tearful mother, who was present in court, expressed gratitude for the sentence through Tang’s lawyer, Luke Lee.