History of violence lands man in jail for 10 years

Upset with being placed in a padded cell after his arrest, a man with a violent disposition tore up the floor lining and smeared his faeces on the walls.

It was the same story three weeks later in a cell at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), where Low Ser Lai had subsequently been remanded for psychiatric assessment.

The 57-year-old damaged the fan and lights there, and stained the walls with his excrement. When four security guards went to check on him, Low - then naked - swung a plastic shard from the broken light at them.

His assault left them injured, with one guard needing stitches for a head wound and three days of medical leave.

Yesterday, Low - who has a history of violence-related convictions dating back to 1977 - was sentenced to 10 years of preventive detention, a penalty reserved for recalcitrant offenders.

The former part-time cleaner admitted to 17 offences on six different occasions this year, the first of which came in January shortly after his release from 10 years of corrective training.

Besides hurting the IMH guards, Low's crimes also included disorderly behaviour and the use of criminal force against police officers.

The court heard Low wound up in the first cell at the Police Cantonment Complex on Aug 12 after he caused a scene outside Hong Wen School, where he was then working. He had tried to give sweets to arriving students, but the security guard stopped him.

Low then stood on the road to block traffic in retaliation, and refused to cooperate with the police officers who were called in. He swore at a police corporal and pushed him in the chest.

He later caused $2,850 in damage after being put in the cell at the Police Cantonment Complex.

On Sept 3, he caused another $646 in damage, this time to the IMH cell.

Separately, on June 11, Low repeatedly punched a 54-year-old woman who accused him of molesting her.

The woman, who is deaf, had confronted Low with her brother-in-law at a HDB void deck in Bendemeer Road.

It is understood the IMH assessment found that Low, who pleaded guilty to six charges, does not suffer from any major mental illness.

Most recently, he served 15 years of corrective training for convictions in 1997 and 2003, and received three strokes of the cane.

Preventive detention can involve between seven and 20 years in prison. The maximum penalty for voluntarily causing hurt is a jail term of two years and a $5,000 fine.


This article was first published on Nov 29, 2014.
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