SINGAPORE — A 17-year-old got involved in a scheme to steal money from prostitutes, thinking they would be less likely to report the matter to the police, a court heard.
Mendel See Li Quan also raped a 53-year-old Singaporean victim.
At the High Court on Monday (16 September), See, now 19, was sentenced to seven years’ jail and 15 strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to one charge each of rape, night-time robbery with common intention, and theft in a building with common intention.
The prosecution sought at least nine years’ jail along with 15 strokes of the cane due to the seriousness of the crimes, with deterrence as the main sentencing consideration.
See’s pro bono lawyers sought reformative training due to his age. Reformative training is a rehabilitative sentencing option for offenders under 21. Inmates under the programme undergo a strict regime behind bars and can be detained for up to three years.
See is out on bail of $100,000 as he plans to appeal against his sentence.
Robbed and raped Singaporean woman
In July 2017, the month he turned 17, See got to know a woman by the name of Chow Chia Suan through a mutual friend. Chow introduced See to her boyfriend Benjamin Yong Dun Zheng and the trio became close.
See is a Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia while Chow, now 24, and Yong, who turns 24 next month, are Singaporeans.
The next month, the trio discussed ways to make money and See suggested stealing cash from prostitutes. The plan was to obtain the contact details of foreign prostitutes, lure them to See’s or Yong’s home, and then rob or steal from them.
On 1 October 2017, See used his phone to contact a 53-year-old Singaporean woman who listed her massage and sexual services online.
The woman also brokered engagements for other prostitutes. She instructed a Filipina prostitute to go to See’s home, but the latter did not do so.
Angered, See plotted revenge. The next day, he used Chow’s phone to contact the 53-year-old, offering her $900 to turn up at Yong’s home in Yishun at about 10pm.
When the victim arrived, Yong opened the front door as part of an act. Shortly after, See and Chow banged on the door to pretend they were entering from outside the unit and then confronted the victim with a rod.
See pretended to scold Yong and demanded money, while also threatening him with the rod. See then passed Chow the rod and drew out a chopper.
The victim pleaded with See and Chow to let her leave, but they asked her to pay Yong’s debt.
See pointed the chopper at the victim, who feared for her life. He pulled her bag away from her and told her not to move. He passed the bag to Chow, who took $100 in cash, a $13 pack of cigarettes, and two mobile phones worth $550 and $100. Yong remained silent as part of the act.
See told Chow and Yong to leave the room and then closed the door. He told the victim to remove all her clothes while still brandishing the chopper.
He then raped the victim before telling her to leave. Yong and Chow didn’t know about the rape.
After the victim left, See, Yong and Chow went to an Internet gaming shop. The victim called the police after she got home.
Police arrested the trio the next day at See’s home, where they recovered the victim’s mobile phones.
Stole $670 from foreign prostitute
In September 2017, Chow and Yong also used Chow’s phone to contact a 27-year-old Chinese national working as a beauty therapist in Singapore on a work permit. She had advertised her massage and sexual services online for $170.
The duo offered the victim $350 to travel to See’s condo in Yishun. At his home, See promised Guo $1,500 to keep him company for the whole day. She agreed and he paid her $600 in cash, which she kept in her wallet.
After they had sex, Guo went to the toilet and left her handbag unattended. Unknown to the victim, Yong and Chow were in the home with another accomplice, Malaysian national Wong Jin Sheng.
Wong opened Guo’s handbag and stole $670. Wong, Yong and Chow then left the home.
Shortly after, See invited Guo to join him for a meal and promised to pay her the outstanding money afterwards.
Yong, Chow and Wong were already waiting in a vehicle. See drove them to an eatery in Upper Thomson Road.
But only Guo and Chow alighted.
Chow made an excuse to leave while Guo was ordering food. When the food finally came, Guo opened her wallet, only to realise that all the cash in her wallet was missing. She tried calling See but he didn’t pick up his phone.
Accomplices sentenced for their roles
In January, Yong was jailed for three-and-a-half years with 12 strokes of the cane, while Chow was jailed for four years. Chow received a six-month jail term in lieu of caning; only male offenders below the age of 50 are liable for caning.
The couple each pleaded guilty to three charges: theft in dwelling with common intention, conspiracy to cheat and robbery by night with common intention.
The maximum punishment for rape is 20 years’ jail, along with a fine or caning.
The penalty for robbery between 7pm and 7am is a jail term of between three and 14 years, along with at least 12 strokes of the cane.
The maximum punishment for theft in a building is up to seven years’ jail and a fine.
Under the law, when a crime is committed jointly by several people, each person is liable for it as if it was committed by just that person alone.