Preventive detention for man who stole woman's $15 pouch

A jobless man, who had been in and out of jail for the past 40 years, is behind bars again after robbing a woman of a pouch worth less than $15, and containing only a packet of tissue paper.

Andrew Tan Siew Kwong also attempted to rob a second woman of her handbag.

The 60-year-old man was sentenced to nine years' preventive detention yesterday after pleading guilty last month to one count each of robbery and attempted robbery.

Preventive detention, which can last from seven to 20 years, is for recalcitrant offenders. They must serve the full sentence with no reduction for good behaviour.

In the latest offences, a 57-year-old woman was inside a lift with her one-year-old grandson at Block 622A Punggol Central at around 9.45am on Oct 24 last year when Tan stepped in before the doors closed.

As the lift was going up, he suddenly whipped out a knife, pointed it at her waist and demanded money. She replied that she was not carrying any cash.

Tan then took her pouch, valued at $14.20, and which contained a packet of tissue paper.

He bolted when the lift doors opened.

About two hours later, he approached a 37-year-old woman who was at a bus stop near Block 612B Punggol Central.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hui Jia Lun said: "The accused pointed the knife with a blade measuring about 9cm in length at the victim's right hip.

"The victim then pushed the accused away but fell to the ground as it was slippery. As a result, she suffered a cut on her left arm.

"The accused tried to approach the victim again. However, the victim used her umbrella to push the accused person away."

Tan then fled the scene empty-handed. Both women alerted the police later that day. - SHAFFIQ ALKHATIB