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Ex-cabby jailed for casino crimes

He had posed as brother to enter casino and tried to cheat at a game. -ST
Elena Chong

Sat, May 01, 2010
The Straits Times

By Elena Chong

HE HAD been sentenced to a life term in prison for wielding a firearm during a robbery and was an undischarged bankrupt, but former cabby Loo Siew Wan never left his life of crime behind.

Last September, he was fined $1,000 for gaming in public.

That did not deter him either.

When Singapore's first casino opened in February, Loo gave in to temptation again.

Though he had been barred from the casino, Loo posed as his elder brother, Siow Kok, for a roll of the dice at the gaming tables on Feb 21.

The next day, he continued to use his brother's driving licence - which he had stolen - to enter the gaming floor again.

There, the 53-year-old tried to cheat a dealer at the baccarat table by placing his bet of $200 after the result had been declared.

His ruse was spotted by a fellow gamer who alerted the dealer.

Yesterday, he was jailed for a total of nine months for this and other offences committed at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).

Loo's first date with the courts came in 1989, when he was jailed for life and given 10 strokes of the cane for robbing a joss-stick trader while armed with a pistol. Two other charges of unlawful possession of arms were also taken into consideration.

He was released in July 2000 after a one-third remission of his term for good behaviour.

Loo managed to stay on the right side of the law for nine years until last September when he was fined for the gaming offence.

Later that month, the compulsive gambler was caught gaming again at a void deck in Hougang, and assaulted a police officer who nabbed him there. He was arrested, and investigations into the case were ongoing, when he was caught for cheating at the casino.

Yesterday, Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye said Loo deserved a lengthy sentence because of several aggravating factors.

The court heard that when he was arrested, he continued with his fraud and lied to police, giving his elder brother's driving licence when asked for his identity.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Benjamin Yim had argued that a substantial jail sentence was warranted to deter Loo and like-minded persons as well as to protect the public interest.

He said Loo was a persistent offender who indulged in gambling.

The judge agreed that this case warranted a deterrent punishment to ensure that Singapore continued to be a clean, honest, safe, law-abiding and wholesome place to live in.

He said it was important to ensure that Singapore continued to be a safe and secure place notwithstanding the operation of the two casinos.

"The court has a role to play in ensuring that Singapore is a safe place," he said.

He warned that severe deterrent sentences would be meted out against organised or syndicated crime, illegal moneylending, using fake casino chips, money laundering, and large-scale criminal activities that are often associated with casinos.

"This tough approach will also be taken against foreign syndicates, gang or groups who seek to infiltrate and perpetuate their vices in our casinos," he added.

Loo could have been jailed for up to five years each for attempted cheating and cheating by personation.

For giving false information, the maximum punishment is a year's jail and a fine of up to $5,000.


This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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