A life of crime and jail time

SINGAPORE - He had a long criminal record and had been in and out of prison for 30 years.

Mr Pheh Yong Cheng, 66, began running afoul of the law as early as 1969, when he was in his early 20s.

Among his first crimes were rape and kidnapping.

Over the years, he did it all - from housebreaking to theft, embezzlement to manslaughter.

When not in prison, Mr Pheh worked as a deliveryman, lorry attendant, labourer and odd jobber.

But after he was released in the early 2000s, he apparently turned over a new leaf.

He found work in a coffee shop as a cashier.

He also found love with one of his co-workers, and moved into her flat over a year ago.

His girlfriend, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lian, said: "I don't know about his past. But I know he turned over a new leaf."

He even asked her children not to follow in his footsteps.

One of her sons, 24, told Shin Min Daily News: "He said he regretted what he had done in the past. He warned me not to follow in his footsteps..."

But things took a turn last week. He began acting strangely.

He stopped drinking and chatting with his friends, and preferred to drink by himself.

No energy

One of his former co-workers, who wanted to be known only as Jenny, said: "He declined our invitations to come out. He said he didn't have the energy to do things. There seemed to be something troubling him."

Madam Lian said: "He had been grumpy these few days. He also didn't have much of an appetite. I asked him if there was something bothering him, but he didn't want to talk about it."

She said she had not seen him on Thursday when she got up.

An hour later, she heard about him falling to his death.

He was found dead at the foot of Block 9, Teck Whye Lane, around 6am on Thursday morning. The police have classified the case as unnatural death, and are investigating.

Undertaker Roland Tay offered his services for free. He told The New Paper: "I feel very sorry for him. He has been in and out of prison for so long, and died."

Helplines:

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)

Hotline: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) Website: www.samaritans.org.sg

Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin)

Hotline: 1800-353-5800 (10am to 10pm daily, except public holidays) Website: www.carecorner.org.sg

Institute of Mental Health Helpline

Hotline: 6389 2222 (24 hours) Website: www.imh.com.sg

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