PAIN She turns son, 17, over to cops

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JOY Has son after years of IVF treatment
PAIN She turns son, 17, over to cops

By Vivien Chan

July 03, 2009 Print Ready Email Article

SHE put herself through seven years of costly in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment before she finally conceived.

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TNP ILLUSTRATION: LEE HUP KHENG

But, 16 years later, she did the most painful thing a mother could ever do – report her beloved son to the police.

Her son, Edwin Tan Zhen Hao, now 17, had stolen from her.

IVF is a fertility treatment where egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body. The embryos are then placed in the womb.

If an embryo manages to attach itself to the lining inside the womb, pregnancy results.

Each IVF cycle takes six weeks to complete.

Court documents revealed that at about 10pm on 20 Apr, Madam Teo Choo Bee returned home from work and found the master bedroom ransacked.

She discovered about $1,400 worth of jewellery and other items missing from her bedroom.

‘I knew that my son stole it, but I gave him a chance, hoping that he would confess. But he denied stealing from me.’

Broken-hearted, Madam Teo lodged a police report at Tampines Neighbourhood Police Centre two days later.

‘He confessed to the police only after I called them,’ Madam Teo said in an earlier interview.

The police arrested the teenager at his home on 28Apr.

He had stolen a camera, RM200 ($80), three gold rings, two gold diamond stone rings and two gold stone rings from his mother.

He later sold off the jewellery.

Madam Teo said that she had wanted to give him another chance when he showed remorse after his arrest, but decided against forgiving him when she learnt that he had chalked up a debt of more than $1,000 in soccer bets.

The revelation was devastating because of what she went through to conceive him.

Madam Teo told Lianhe Wanbao that she could not conceive when she was younger because she had health problems.

But she and her husband pined for a child. They spent thousands of dollars on IVF treatments over seven years before she became pregnant.

She said: ‘By nature, my son is not bad. He always scored 80 marks and above in primary school. He was just a little lazy and loved to play.

‘He started changing after befriending three friends outside. He began playing truant and stayed away from home. He wouldn’t even answer our calls.’

Madam Teo added that she’d rather her son be angry with her now than have him grow up and blame her for not thinking of a way to help him.

The court heard that Edwin stole because he wanted to gamble.

He made illegal soccer bets of about $1,000 four to five times a week over two weeks.

He claimed said that he was stressed over his debts to the bookie and stole to settle his debts.

He pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to undergo reformative training.

But he was unhappy with the sentence and lodged an appeal, representing himself in court.

Mitigation

In mitigation, he pleaded for a chance to be placed on probation, saying that he would be sitting for his N-level examinations this year.

In delivering his judgment on 12 Jun, District Judge Roy Grenville Neighbour said: ‘The fact that (Edwin) stole from his mother shows that he has taken his parents for granted and has no respect for them.

‘He continues to play truant, misbehave and lacks focus in his studies. His parents, though supportive of (him), have exhausted all possible means of helping him.’

He noted that Edwin’s parents have said that they are unable to manage their son, and that he frequently lied to them.

Pre-sentencing reports called for by the judge found that Edwin was unsuitable for probation.

So Judge Neighbour upheld the earlier sentence of reformative training.

He said: ‘The specialised treatment programmes at the reformative training centre will focus on and address (his) criminal inclinations and thinking. It will focus on his gambling habits.’

Edwin could have been jailed seven years.

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