15 years' jail for snatch thief

A policeman escorting Ooi, who tries to cover his face with a towel, out of the court room.

GEORGE TOWN: A club bouncer was jailed 15 years by the High Court here for causing the death of a 60-year-old woman in a snatch theft two years ago.

Ooi Kean Leong, who was initially charged with murdering coffeeshop worker Tan Kim Chuan, admitted yesterday to a lesser alternative charge of committing culpable ho­­micide not amounting to murder under Section 304(a) of the Penal Code.

The offence carries a maximum jail sentence of 30 years and a fine.

Ooi, 36, admitted committing the offence at the motorcycle parking area of the Rifle Range flats here at 6.02am on July 10, 2012.

When passing sentence, Justice Zamani Abdul Rahim castigated Ooi by asking him how he could have snatched the bag of an innocent wo­­man, causing her to fall and die.

“This is not an action by a human but the action of an animal,” he said, adding that he did not tolerate snatch thefts and kept newspaper cuttings of such incidents.

He told Ooi he was lucky that he was given a lesser alternative charge as the initial charge carried the man­datory death penalty upon conviction.

Ooi, who often looked at the floor during the proceedings, appeared calm and nodded after Justice Za­ma­ni ordered him to serve the jail term from the date of arrest on Aug 8, 2012.

According to the facts of the case, Tan was walking alone at the mo­­torcycle parking area in front of Rifle Range’s Block J when Ooi came from behind on a motorcycle and snatched the handbag slung on her shoulder.

She fell and knocked the back of her head on the road. Tan suffered internal bleeding in the head and died at 3.45pm the same day at the Penang Hospital without regaining consciousness.

The case grabbed headlines not only because it was a fatal snatch theft but a CCTV recording showed seven people walking past Tan without offering any help as she lay unconscious on the ground.

It was reported that six minutes passed before three people came to her aid and called an ambulance to send her to the hospital.

In mitigation, Ooi’s lawyer An­­thony Chew said his client was truly sorry and remorseful for causing Tan’s death, and had promised not to repeat the act in future.

He said Ooi, from Relau, had to carry the stigma of having caused the loss of a life – an act that he would regret for the rest of his life.

In pressing for an appropriate sentence, DPP Muna Mohamed Jaafar said there had been many snatch thefts which resulted in death and serious injury.

She produced a victim impact statement from Tan’s nephew, who said he and his family were afraid to go out alone after what happened to his aunt.

Muna said Tan’s nephew, whose name was not revealed, hoped the court would impose the harshest punishment on Ooi.

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Courts & Crime , fatal snatch theft


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