Gunman on the run for decades gets 18 years’ jail over firearm robberies in 1981
One of Singapore’s most wanted fugitives, who spent more than 30 years on the run after shooting a woman here in a robbery, was sentenced to 18 years’ jail on Tuesday for a series of firearm robberies he committed in 1981.
Chin Sheong Hon, now 72, who has been in custody for more than nine years, would have to spend another 2½years behind bars, given the usual one-third remission and the backdating of his jail term.
Justice Pang Khang Chau rejected prosecution’s arguments for Chin to be given life imprisonment, which would have meant 20 years behind bars, with the possibility of remission, as this was how the law stood at the time.
This position changed in August 1997, when the Court of Appeal ruled that a life sentence was imprisonment for the duration of the prisoner’s natural life.
Chin was extradited to Singapore in 2013 after he was released from prison in Thailand. He had been jailed there for taking part in local political protests.
After his arrest in Singapore on June 6, 2013, Chin was charged with committing three robberies between July and November 1981 while armed with a revolver.
However, he was held in a psychiatric ward after being found to be of unsound mind and unfit to stand trial.
Chin, who was diagnosed with delusional disorder in 2015, was certified fit to plead to his original charges in July 2021, Deputy Public Prosecutors Kathy Chu and Timotheus Koh told the HIgh Court on Tuesday.
Chin had admitted to robbing Mr Ee Chong Leong in July 1981 of about $16,000 at the former Singapore Shuttle Bus Terminal at Lorong 1 Geylang.
Three months later, he robbed Mr Chua Boon Leong of about $1,800 in front of the Overseas Union Bank along Tanjong Katong Road. He was armed with a revolver on both occasions.
In November, he shot Ms Goh Siew Foon while robbing her of $92,000 in front of the Thomson branch of the United Overseas Bank.
The gunshot wound ruptured her stomach and caused lacerations to her lungs, but Ms Goh survived the injuries.
On Tuesday, DPP Koh sought life imprisonment, arguing that it was justified as Chin has been assessed by the Institute of Mental Health to be an unstable character who is at risk of committing similar offences in future.
The DPP noted that Chin continues to labour under a mental illness, and that a life term will maintain the status quo and ensure that Chin has access to medical care.
Chin’s assigned defence lawyer Mervyn Cheong sought a jail term of 13 years and seven months and argued that the risk of Chin reoffending is low because of his advance age and poor health.
He added that there was no evidence that Chin had committed violence-related offences during the years he was at large.