A RETIREE of 78 who ripped a gold necklace from an elderly woman's neck and escaped after threatening two younger men with a knife was fined $5,000 yesterday.
A community court heard that Woon Yin Meng spotted Madam Tang Sweet Kun, 76, at about 8am when he was heading back to the Maysprings condominium in Bukit Panjang that he shared with his son.
Woon followed Madam Tang, who was carrying a bag of groceries, to a void deck at a Housing Board block in Gangsa Road.
He grabbed her neck with his left hand and ripped off the necklace with the other hand.
He also pushed her, causing her to fall to the floor, bruising her forehead in the attack on April 21 last year.
Two men aged 46 and 52 cornered Woon but he threatened them with a kitchen knife and fled into the condominium grounds. They gave chase but lost sight of him.
Woon, though, dropped his mobile phone. This allowed police to establish his identity and arrest him five hours later.
Woon also dropped the necklace, which was never recovered.
Its value could not be determined but he has compensated Madam Tang for the necklace and her injury. The amount was not disclosed in court.
Defence counsel Sankar Saminathan asked the court to impose a fine and not a jail term, noting that Woon was a gambling addict and had committed the offences after his son refused to give him money.
Woon has received counselling at the Institute of Mental Health and has stopped gambling, added Mr Sankar.
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said he agreed that jail would not be appropriate and that a high fine would suffice.
The maximum penalty for theft is a three-year jail term and a $10,000 fine; for causing hurt, it is a two-year jail term and a $5,000 fine.
The two charges for committing criminal intimidation by threatening the two bystanders with a knife were taken into consideration when passing sentence.
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