She could not stop crying when it was her turn to speak.
Standing in the dock in the State Court yesterday, Li Lianying, a 50-year-old Chinese national, told the judge between sobs that she was sorry for her actions.
Li, who was part of a gang of five Chinese who cheated two elderly women last November, asked for leniency, saying: "My mother's 84 and needs to be looked after. My father just passed away. I apologise to all the victims. I'm truly sorry. It was a moment of folly."
However, District Judge Soh Tze Bian rejected Li's plea for leniency, saying: "It can't be a moment of folly. You came here with the intention of cheating."
Stressing the seriousness of Li's crime, he said that the $439,000 the two victims were cheated of was not a small amount..
Added Judge Soh: "How do you justify all that? You cheated them of their entire life savings. You look at yourself, what about your victims?"
Court documents show that Madam Goh Kah Keow, who was cheated of $401,450, and Madam Chua Peck Har, who lost $37,550, were targeted by the group because of their old age and gullibility.
Pressing for a harsher sentence for Li, a divorcee who was not represented in court, Deputy Public Prosecutor Vadi PVSS argued that she had played a direct and active role in the scams.
He said: "There was direct interaction. She initiated the conversation with the victims. We (the prosecution) feel it (her punishment) should be a substantial amount."
Judge Soh sentenced Li to four years and 10 months in jail for two counts of cheating. A third charge of removing property gained from cheating was taken into consideration.
Another accomplice, Li Peng, 45, who had played a lesser role, was jailed for three years and five months. Three accomplices remain at large.
This article was first published on June 20, 2014.
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