Elena Chong
Tue, Feb 19, 2008
The Straits Times
AWOL soldier booked prostitute after leaving camp with rifle

A NATIONAL Serviceman who walked out of a camp with a rifle and live rounds checked into a Geylang hotel, as 200 police officers mounted an island-wide manhunt for him.

Details of what AWOL army corporal Dave Teo Ming, 20, did after running away from Mandai Hill Camp on Sept 2 last year emerged in court on Tuesday when his friend was convicted of being found in his company.

Several hours after returning home with the SAR-21 assault rifle and several rounds of ammunition, Teo went to a Geylang hotel at about 2.25am on Sept 3.

He called his friend and regular pimp, Ong Boon Jun, 22, and asked him to send over a Thai prostitute who Teo had hired several times before.

In the hotel room, Teo assembled the rifle and loaded it with eight live rounds, including three he had kept from an earlier live-firing exercise. He hid the weapon with some pillows.

After the prostitute arrived, Teo asked Ong to meet him in the room as he was going out for a while and did not want to leave her alone.

Ong came shortly after and discovered the rifle when he rested on the bed.

He quickly shooed the Thai woman into the toilet when Teo showed him the weapon and said he had stolen it from his camp to commit robbery.

Teo then dismantled the rifle and placed the parts in a bag. He left the hotel at about 4.15am.

Teo was later arrested with the rifle and bullets at about 8pm in the men's toilet on the third floor of Orchard Cineleisure at Grange Road.

Ong was caught at about 3.45am the next day at Cantonment complex.

His lawyers, Mr Amolat Singh and Mr Low Hui Hui, said the odd-job worker first met Teo in a pub about a year ago, and he later became his regular client.

Mr Singh said Ong was completely shocked on seeing the rifle and told Teo not to act rashly. He also feared that Teo might take revenge on him for betraying him, said the lawyer.

'This is an unfortunate case of the accused being at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person,' said Mr Singh.

Ong will be sentenced next on Feb 25. He can be jailed for up to 10 years and given at least six strokes of the cane.

Teo's next pre-trial hearing is set for March 6. He is charged with unlawfully carrying an assault rifle and possessing eight live ammunition rounds, as well as an unrelated offence of knife possession.


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