A man who was involved in the Sheng Siong kidnapping case - the first kidnap-for-ransom case in over a decade - was sentenced to three years' jail yesterday, after he was convicted on an amended charge.
Heng Chen Boon, 51, pleaded guilty to intentionally aiding Lee Sze Yong to abduct and wrongfully confine Ng Lye Poh, mother of the supermarket chain's boss, Lim Hock Chee.
Heng, who was unaware of Lee's alleged plans to kidnap Madam Ng, drove the then 79-year-old woman to a spot near Sembawang Park and kept watch over her on Jan 8 last year.
Lee, 42, still faces the kidnapping charge. If convicted, he faces the gallows, or life in prison with caning. His next appearance in the High Court will be on June 2.
According to court documents, Heng - who was a contract staff member for Diner's Club employed to check on credit card machines at retail outlets - lived together with Lee as good friends.
The court yesterday heard details of how the kidnap was allegedly elaborately planned and executed by Lee.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kavita Uthrapathy said police investigations revealed that Lee - who was working as a retail sales executive with Universal Sovereign Trading and earning about $4,850 a month - had incurred debts of between $150,000 and $200,000 by borrowing money from banks, friends, and both legal and illegal moneylenders.
Some time in 2011, according to the prosecution, he began to hatch a plan to abduct someone for ransom.
Lee allegedly looked through the Forbes list of Singapore's richest people, and did research on potential targets online.
After reading up online on how to carry out an abduction, Lee began, sometime in 2011, to allegedly buy items such as a taser, pepper spray and false car registration plates to facilitate his plans.
According to the prosecution, Lee had observed Mr Lim's residence for about six months and recorded the specific details of how he would kidnap Madam Ng.
On Jan 8, the day of the abduction, Lee allegedly parked a rented car in Hougang Avenue 2 and approached Madam Ng at the foot of an overhead bridge at about 11.30am. He asked her whether Mr Lim was her son, then told her that he had fallen in the office.
Believing that Lee was telling the truth, she followed him and got into the car.
Lee purportedly drove to Seletar Camp, where he stopped and moved to the backseat behind Madam Ng so that he could put a face mask and blindfold on her. Realising that she was being abducted, she pleaded with him to let her go.
At 2.13pm, Lee allegedly made a call to Mr Lim using a Malaysian SIM card and directed Mr Lim to hand over a ransom amounting to $20 million.
Later that day, according to the prosecution, when Lee realised the rental timing for the car had expired, he called Heng and asked him to drive Lee's car, a Volkswagen Scirocco, to the Punggol End carpark, where Lee waited.
DPP Uthrapathy said Heng was shocked when he saw Madam Ng with a blindfold over her eyes, but Lee told him not to ask any questions.
Lee purportedly drove his car to various places, waiting for nightfall, with Madam Ng reclining at the front passenger seat.
When Lee called her son at about 7.30pm, Mr Lim, acting under the instructions of the police, negotiated the ransom amount down to $2 million.
Lee then asked Heng to meet him at Sembawang Park but, sensing something amiss, Heng confronted him over the abduction. When Lee confessed about the kidnapping, Heng told him that what he had done was a serious offence and asked Lee to let Madam Ng go, said DPP Uthrapathy.
But Lee told Heng that they were facing financial difficulties and it was too late to back out.
Lee asked Heng to help him keep watch over Madam Ng while he collected the ransom nearby, and told him that he could leave if he did not want to help. Heng agreed to help, and drove the car with Madam Ng to another road in the vicinity of Sembawang Park.
Mr Lim dropped the ransom at a specific tree located behind the shelter at the end of Sembawang Park at about 11pm, as instructed by Lee, who watched him from a distance.
Lee later threw the bag of money into some thick vegetation near Cyprus Road before meeting Heng.
Lee subsequently dropped Madam Ng off at the bus stop at the entrance of Seletar Camp before calling Mr Lim to pick her up.
A team of police officers from the Criminal Investigation Department arrived at the bus stop at 12.23am on Jan 9 to pick her up. Lee and Heng, whose identities had been established by the police earlier, were arrested shortly after that.
At 1.18am, Lee led the police to the ransom.
For his role in the abduction, Heng could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. He did not face caning as he is over 50.
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