Why Sheng Siong kidnapper Lee Sze Yong wanted death penalty, not life sentence

Lee says he plotted the kidnap due to debt and that he never had any intention to harm Mdm Ng

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The Singapore High Court sentenced Lee Sze Yong to life imprisonment and three strokes of the cane for kidnapping the elderly mother of millionaire Lim Hock Chee, owner of the supermarket chain Sheng Siong in January 2014 and holding her hostage for S$20 million.

Dubbed as Shen Siong Kidnapper, Lee abducted 81-year-old Ng Lye Poh on Jan 8, 2014, while walking home back from the market and held her hostage for 12 hours. She was released after delivering $2 million in cash. Lee was shortly arrested after the incident and investigators found that he had been planning the plot from 2010. The list also had the name of billionaire Peter Lim's children and other high-profile, high-value individuals.

According to the police, Lee lied to Mdm Ng that his son had a fall at his office and injured his head. He then lured her into his rented car. During the trial, Lee claimed that he plotted the kidnap due to his debt but maintained that he never had any intention to harm Mdm Ng.

In a handwritten letter to the court, Lee had urged for a death penalty instead of life term. He also asked for the victim's forgiveness and regretted the trauma that he had caused. "Perhaps in my life, I will never ever know freedom, which is more than I dare to hope for. I have ruined my life. By dying, I hope that I have repaid my debt and to be at peace," he said. He also revealed that he has been having mental issues due to his financial problems but he never opted to go in for a treatment.

Lee's lawyer, Selva K. Naidu, argued that he was not guilty under the Kidnapping Act as he had no intentions to harm Mdm Ng and was planning to release her regardless of whether he received the ransom.But Justice Chan rejected the argument saying "it appears the legislative intent is to cast a wide net to penalize the actions of abductors who place their victims and their relatives ... in fear".

Lee's ex-lover and associate Heng Chen Boon was handed a three-year jail helping him in the abduction.

This article was first published on December 2, 2016