A woman, who has been given many chances by the courts for shoplifting, on Friday failed to escape jail for cheating. But she still had her prison term halved to 41/2 months on appeal.
In an unusual move, Justice Chan Seng Onn questioned Goh Lee Yin, 32, who was appealing against her nine-month jail term for scamming three victims out of six luxury bags worth $110,700.
"You've been given many chances, do you realise that?" the High Court judge asked Goh.
When she replied that she did, he continued: "And you still want one more chance? There's a limit to this, you know."
The former engineer has been in and out of court for shoplifting since 2005. Twice, she was given probation as she was diagnosed with kleptomania then.
In 2011, she was jailed for six weeks - but less than three months after her release from prison, she took to crime again. This time it was cheating.
Her lawyer Wendell Wong urged the High Court to place her on probation for two years, arguing that she was a "troubled soul" who recognises that she needs help. He proposed a treatment plan which included having her family members accompany her at all times, monitor her online activities and "sweep" their home regularly for items that cannot be accounted for.
But Justice Chan said that rather than "put an ecosystem around her", the main issue was how she was going to help herself.
"Spare the rod and spoil the child," he said, noting that punishment was a mode of rehabilitation.
When Mr Wong argued that probation did not mean going soft on her, Justice Chan asked: "Is she trying to game the system?"
The judge then asked Goh why she needed so many luxury goods. After a long pause, she said: "I'm not doing this for personal gain."
She added: "What I say may seem strange but I can't tell between the real world and not the real world."
Deputy Public Prosecutor Amardeep Singh said it was not that people do not want to help her, but that Goh refuses to help herself. "Probation is not candy that we give to little children when they get mischievous," he argued. He added she was "nothing short of devilish, diabolical and scheming".
Justice Chan allowed her appeal by cutting her jail term and told her that if she came back to his court, she could face a more severe sentence.
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