SINGAPORE – A cleaner who assaulted a sex worker and robbed another woman at knifepoint just months after he was released from prison was sentenced to nine years’ preventive detention with 12 strokes of the cane on Wednesday (Aug 14).

Muhammad Rozaimie Zainal, 41, pleaded guilty last month to one count each of assault and robbery.

Preventive detention is only for repeat offenders who are aged more than 30, and can see them incarcerated for up to 20 years.

It will be his third lengthy spell behind bars.

In 2003, Rozaimie was sentenced to corrective training (CT) for offences, including criminal intimidation and drug consumption.

He spent six years behind bars and was ordered to receive eight strokes of the cane.

CT is a prison regime for repeat offenders without the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.

But Rozaimie did not learn his lesson and was sentenced to his second spell of CT in 2010 for robbery offences – this time lasting for eight years with the maximum 24 strokes.

He was released in April 2018.

But just five months later, he went to Orchard Towers and approached a 33-year-old Vietnamese sex worker.

She agreed to have sex with him for $100 and they checked into a room at the New Orchid Hotel in Balestier Road.

The pair soon started quarrelling after Rozaimie said he wanted to pay her only after they had sex. When she tried to leave, he grabbed her hand and blocked the door.

She tried to push him away and he retaliated by punching her in the head several times. He also scratched her face, neck and chest.

The sex worker eventually managed to get away and alerted the police.

In a separate incident on Dec 17 last year, the court heard that a Singaporean woman was walking towards Tanjong Pagar MRT station at around 11pm when she stopped to play a piano near the entrance of the URA Centre in Maxwell Road.

Rozaimie decided to rob her. Armed with a knife, he said to her: “If you don’t want anything to happen to you… give me money.”

The terrified woman told him she had only $52 in her wallet. Rozaimie repeated his request and they went to an ATM at Tanjong Pagar MRT station where she withdrew $1,000.

She handed him $1,052 in total and he fled.

She reported the matter to station staff, who called the police. Officers arrested Rozaimie at Lucky Plaza shopping centre two days later.

Rozaimie has made no restitution, the court heard.

For robbery committed between 7pm and 7am, offenders can be jailed for between three and 14 years, and ordered to receive at least 12 strokes of the cane.