Singapore

Serial shoplifter who had depression found dead

Serial shoplifter who had depression found dead at foot of Sengkang HDB block on Monday


A former engineer with a history of shoplifting was found dead at the foot of a block of flats in Sengkang on Monday, the day before she was due back in court.

Goh Lee Yin, 36, was facing nine charges of theft and fraudulent possession.

Goh, who was charged in court last year, allegedly stole more than $30,000 worth of items in 2015, including clothing from brands such as Kenzo, Louis Vuitton and Prada, and even a Breville oven.

She was hauled to court for shoplifting in 2005 and 2007, and given probation after being diagnosed with kleptomania.

People suffering from the condition have a recurrent urge to steal, although not for greed.

Goh was accused of similar offences twice in 2011 and was jailed for six weeks, but took to crime again less than three months after her release, tricking two women into handing over four Hermes handbags worth a total of $97,000.

She was sentenced to nine months' jail after pleading guilty.

In response to queries, a police spokesman said yesterday that a 36-year-old woman was found motionless at the foot of Block 405B, Fernvale Lane, at around 6.50am and was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.

Investigations are ongoing.

The Straits Times yesterday visited Goh's wake in Buangkok Green, where she had lived with her husband and baby girl.

Goh became a mother in January last year.

Friends and family members were seen comforting each other and paying their respects at the wake.

At 8.20pm, around 40 people attended a 50-minute Christian service. Goh's family gathered around her casket at the end of the service.

Those present at the wake asked for privacy and declined comment.

Senior consultant psychiatrist Munidasa Winslow said: "She was a very pleasant young lady who had unfortunately developed dysfunctional behaviours to cope with her emotions."

Dr Winslow had testified in Goh's defence in 2013, saying then that if Goh was put in prison without "therapies that may work for her, we are actually condemning her to a long term because we will be seeing her forever and ever again".

Dr Rajesh Jacob, senior consultant psychiatrist at Promises Healthcare, told The Straits Times that while shoplifting is not a common symptom of depression, those who suffer from the condition may steal because it gives them a "temporary elevation of mood".

He said he has seen at least two patients who had depression and were found guilty of shoplifting, and whose conditions improved after being given a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO).

Implemented in 2010, the MTO is a community sentencing option for offenders suffering from mental conditions which have contributed to their committing the offence.

Offenders will not be sentenced to prison but will be asked to attend follow-up sessions at the Institute of Mental Health to see psychiatrists and psychologists. - Additional Reporting by ELENA CHONG

Helplines

  • Samaritans of Singapore (24-hour hotline)
1800- 221-4444
  • Singapore Association For Mental Health
1800-283-7019
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin)
1800-353-5800
  • Tinkle Friend
1800-274-4788
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