With lips that had turned white from fear, the Secondary 1 student came home from school close to tears.
The 13-year-old had been robbed of his belongings at knifepoint in the lift at his Jurong West block.
His biggest loss: a grey iPhone 5s that his father had bought for him as a reward for his Primary School Leaving Examinations results five months earlier.
Roy (not his real name) told The New Paper yesterday: "He (the robber) pointed the knife at my stomach and told me to hand over my phone and wallet.
"I thought it was a prank because Singapore is very safe and I thought such things happen only in TV shows."
It turned out that the robber had also threatened three other students with a knife before robbing them of their mobile phones and other valuables.
According to court papers, Mohamed Faizal Manokhor Ali targeted students as they were easier to rob than adults.
In court yesterday, the 35-year-old unemployed man was jailed for 10 years and given 12 strokes of the cane for robbing Roy.
He was also convicted of taking morphine and failing to report for a urine test.
Also taken into consideration were another three charges of robbing three students, aged 12 to 14, and two charges of failing to report for a urine test.
His loot from the other victims also included smartphones.
Roy's aunt, Ms Margaret Chua, who saw her nephew arrive home immediately after the robbery on April 11, said he was frightened and traumatised.
"He was shivering in fear and his lips were completely white," recounted Ms Chua, 50.
"He didn't even eat the omelette he had bought from the 'pasar malam' (night market) before that. I asked him to call his father, who called the police."
Investigations revealed that Faizal had been loitering at Roy's block at Jurong West Central 1 around 4pm.
When he spotted Roy, he followed the boy into the lift and waited for the doors to close.
He pointed a 7cm-long multi-purpose knife at Roy and demanded the boy to hand his mobile phone and money over.
Out of fear, Roy handed over his mobile phone, wallet, ez-link card, two membership cards for a video game arcade and a book store, and $5 worth of coins. The total value of these items amounted to about $1,000.
Faizal sold the mobile phone to another person for $40, which he used to buy drugs.
In court yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Houston Johannus said Faizal's crimes were aggravated because he had deliberately targeted vulnerable victims.
"His motivations were not out of necessity but to fuel his drug habit, which is egregious. The amount stolen was also not insignificant," said Mr Johannus.
Faizal, who has previous convictions for drug-related offences, said in mitigation that it was the first time he had robbed schoolchildren. He pleaded for leniency.
He could have been jailed for 10 years with caning for each robbery charge.
Roy, who has a new phone now, is more cautious nowadays.
"When there are few people around, I will look out for suspicious people. I will also keep the phone in my pocket and not take it out unless I have to," he said.
His father, Mr Eric Chua, 45, said his son would now call home to ask family members to pick him up from the bus stop.
"I bought the phone for him so that it could be a learning and communication tool," he said.
"On the other hand, I know there's a risk. That's why we warn him not to show off his valuables because you don't know who's watching you," Mr Chua said.
This article was first published on June 26, 2014.
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