A district judge on Tuesday (Jun 14) refused to sentence a 42-year-old man who had admitted to stealing a cheque book and forging a cheque for S$1.36 million to pay a male prostitute.
The man, who has been diagnosed with end-stage renal failure, is a candidate for judicial mercy, District Judge Low Wee Ping said, urging the prosecution to reconsider the 10-year term of corrective training it had been pushing for.
Lim Jit Kiat’s lawyer Timothy Ng urged the court to exercise judicial mercy, saying doctors had given Lim about five years to live. "Fate has dealt him a cruel hand," Mr Ng said. He added that four weeks’ jail would be appropriate punishment for Lim, who has also been diagnosed with sexual sadism disorder.
PROSECUTION'S 10-YEAR TERM "MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE"
The prosecution called for the court to impose a 10-year term of corrective training on Lim, citing his lengthy criminal record. Lim, who has spent at least 10 years behind bars for prior unrelated cheating and forgery offences, has a "clear propensity for serious property-related offences," prosecutors said.
Corrective training is a harsher form of punishment in which the offender is not eligible for early release due to factors such as good behaviour.
Despite the prosecution’s assurance that prison authorities are able to manage Lim’s condition, Judge Low was reluctant to sentence Lim on Tuesday, calling a 10-year term "manifestly excessive". "The circumstances are in (Lim’s favour) for (the court to show) judicial mercy," the judge said.
"With the stroke of a pen, I can send him in … let it be someone else’s problem … but I will not do that," Judge Low said.
The courts can exercise judicial mercy by alleviating the punishment that would otherwise have been warranted, in exceptional circumstances such as when an offender suffers from a terminal illness.
In May 2014, Lim had posted an online advertisement for men aged 18 to 45 willing to provide “special services” to male clients. The victim, a 28-year-old Chinese national, responded to the advertisement, and Lim, pretending to be a wealthy Korean client, met him the next day at a Geylang hotel.
Lim offered the man S$1.2 million if he agreed to be caned and burned by cigarettes, and said he would raise the offer if the victim’s "performance was good", the court heard. The victim agreed. In the hotel room, Lim used three bamboo canes on the victim and burned him with cigarettes. Satisfied that the victim had put up a good show, Lim wrote him a cheque for S$1.36 million.
The victim tried to cash the cheque the next day but was arrested when the signature on the cheque did not match the bank’s records.
For forgery, Lim could face up to 15 years’ jail and a fine. His case will be heard on Jun 30.