Loan shark runner asks judge for more caning, less jail time
He claims loved ones died during previous prison terms
A loan shark runner yesterday asked the judge for more strokes of the cane in exchange for less jail time, claiming that his loved ones died during his previous prison terms.
District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam said he could not grant the request because of sentencing precedents set by the High Court.
He sentenced Noel Immanuel Koh, 35, to 40 months in jail and 12 strokes of the cane on four counts of harassing loan shark victims and criminal breach of trust as a servant.
Nine similar charges were taken into consideration.
Last October, he borrowed $300 from a loan shark and paid back $400.The loan shark demanded another $2,000 due to late repayment.
When Koh refused, his family, neighbours and colleagues were harassed.
He later agreed to become a runner for the loan shark by harassing the neighbours of other victims.
Koh, who was a restaurant branch manager, also misappropriated more than $4,000 from his workplace from February to April last year.
Noting Koh's previous convictions for similar offences of theft dating back to 2012, Deputy Public Prosecutor Rebecca Wong called for a global sentence of 40 months' jail and 12 strokes.
Koh, who had been in jail several times previously, asked for less jail time, claiming that a family member died each time he was behind bars.
"I lost everything the last time I went to jail, including my now ex-wife," he said.
"After I was released in 2015, I told myself I would turn over a new leaf and I really was trying."
He said he committed his offences because he did not want his neighbours, colleagues and family to suffer for his mistakes.
"I did all that not out of greed, but to pay off my debts... But I know everything comes with consequences.
"I'd rather take the pain of the cane than the pain of losing family members."
In between muffled sobs, he also said he was now a single parent and the only caregiver of his mother, who was in court.
When Judge Ng said he was unable to accede to Koh's request, Koh asked for a deferment of two days so he could spend time with his mother.
DPP Wong objected, citing a previous adjournment that was granted on the same grounds.
After a long pause, Judge Ng allowed the deferment.
Koh, who is out on $20,000 bail, has to surrender himself tomorrow to begin his sentence.
For each count of harassing borrowers on behalf of a loan shark, he could have been jailed for up to five years and fined up to $50,000.
For criminal breach of trust as a servant, he could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.
By the numbers
Latest police statistics on unlicensed moneylending and related harassment cases show an increase from almost 4,000 cases in 2016 to more than 5,000 cases last year
Number of unlicensed moneylending and harassment cases by year
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