Sia Ah Kew and Others v Public Prosecutor

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeChua F A J
Judgment Date02 April 1974
Neutral Citation[1974] SGCA 2
Citation[1974] SGCA 2
Defendant CounselDatuk David Marshall (David Marshall),SK Lee (SK Lee),Lim Chor Pee (Chor Pee & Hin Hiong),Abdul Wahab Ghows (Solicitor General) and Lawrence Ang (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Plaintiff CounselCheng Tim Pin (Yap & Yap)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 7
Date02 April 1974
Subject MatterKidnapping for ransom,Whether other alternative sentences should be imposed -Section 3 Kidnapping Act (Cap 101, 1970 Rev Ed),Whether sentence appropriate,Principles,Offences,Section 3 Kidnapping Act (Cap 101, 1970 Rev Ed),Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Kidnapping,Sentencing,Criminal Law,Imposition of sentence of death,Offence of kidnapping for ransom

The appellants were charged in the High Court on the following joint charge:

You, 1 Sia Ah Kew, 2 Ho Kok Keng, 3 Hoong Khung Cheong, 4 Koo Ah Choo and 5 Lim Chai Thiam, are hereby charged that you on or about 14 March 1972, at about 7.00pm at no 58 Watten Estate, Singapore, in furtherance of the common intention of all of you, did abduct one Tjioe Kok Hwie with intent to hold the said Tjioe Kok Hwie for ransom, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 3 of the Kidnapping Act (Cap 101) read with s 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 103).

At the trial they pleaded guilty to the charge and were convicted by the trial court which consisted of two judges and all of them were sentenced to death.
They now appeal against their sentences. Section 3 of the Kidnapping Act (Cap 101, 1970 Ed) provides as follows:

Whoever, with intent to hold any person for ransom, abducts or wrongfully restrains or wrongfully confines such person shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punished on conviction with death or imprisonment for life and shall, if he is not sentenced to death, also be liable to caning.

The legislature has thus given the courts a very limited discretion with regard to sentence, the discretion being limited to the imposition of one of three sentences, the maximum being death and the minimum being imprisonment for life.
The third is imprisonment for life with caning.

Before passing the sentences Choor Singh J the presiding judge said:

The crime of kidnapping for ransom is a detestable crime. It is motivated by avarice. It is carefully planned with great deliberation and executed with complete disregard for the anguish and suffering of not only the victim but also of all those who are near and dear to him. The mental torture which the victim`s family undergoes while apprehensively awaiting his fate equals or even surpasses that undergone by the victim while in captivity. Kidnapping for ransom is a crime which no civilised society can tolerate and it should be firmly rooted out. It is therefore imperative that the courts should impose deterrent sentences on persons convicted of kidnapping so that it is brought home to all would-be kidnappers that it does not pay to commit this crime in Singapore.

Much has been made by counsel for the defence of the fact that the accused have pleaded guilty.
We have taken this fact into consideration. We are fully aware that a plea of guilty is a mitigating factor which the court must take into consideration in assessing the sentence to be imposed on an accused who has pleaded guilty. Normally in the case of an offence punishable with imprisonment, a plea of guilty warrants some leniency being shown to the accused and this is reflected in the term of imprisonment imposed on him. In the case of kidnapping for ransom, the punishment prescribed by Parliament clearly indicates the gravity with which this crime should be viewed. Parliament has given the courts a very limited discretion. The offence is punishable with death or life imprisonment. If this court accepts the contention that an accused convicted of kidnapping should not be hanged because he has pleaded guilty, it would be creating a precedent which would be not only dangerous but also contrary to public interest. It would give would-be kidnappers the impression that they can, if caught, always...

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8 cases
  • Selvaraju s/o Satippan v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 10 November 2004
    ......In USA v Escobar-Posado , the defendant was involved in a drug transaction. Two women were hired to deliver money from New Jersey to Colombia, but they were robbed en route. The defendant and others abducted the women, and interrogated and sexually abused them to try and retrieve the money. One woman was later released upon a threat that her friends would be killed if the money was not returned. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided that there was nothing in the ......
  • PP v Kho Jabing
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 18 November 2013
    ...(refd) PP v Galing Anak Kujat [2010] SGHC 212 (refd) PP v Law Aik Meng [2007] 2 SLR (R) 814; [2007] 2 SLR 814 (refd) Sia Ah Kew v PP [1974-1976] SLR (R) 54; [1972-1974] SLR 208 (folld) Sim Gek Yong v PP [1995] 1 SLR (R) 185; [1995] 1 SLR 537 (refd) Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) s 396 Pe......
  • Public Prosecutor v Selvaraju s/o Satippan
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 26 July 2004
    ......On the way, the women were robbed at gunpoint by robbers posing as policemen. Several days later, the defendant and others abducted the two women and a female roommate and interrogated and sexually abused them in an attempt to retrieve the money. Eventually, the abductors released one of the women, demanding that she return with the missing money or else her friends would be killed. . 63        Dismissing the ......
  • Panya Martmontree and Others v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
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