Armed robber who fled court during hearing gets 11.5 years' jail

Armed robber who fled court during hearing gets 11.5 years' jail

Google Street View of the Shell petrol station at 219 Upper Bukit Timah Road
Screengrab from Google Street View of the Shell petrol station at 219 Upper Bukit Timah Road.

SINGAPORE: A man who was arrested a day after fleeing the court during proceedings was jailed for 11-and-a-half years on Thursday (Sep 26).

Visvanathan Vadivelu, 50, was handed the jail term for one charge of armed robbery and three other drug-related charges, with five other charges taken into the consideration.

Of his jail term, nine months was in lieu of caning, as he is 50 and cannot be caned.

Visvanathan was supposed to be sentenced last Tuesday (Sep 17), but absconded during a 10-minute court break.

He was still on court bail and therefore could not be taken into police custody during the break, the police said in a statement after.

When he failed to show, his bail was revoked and a warrant of arrest issued. He was arrested a day later after his mother called the police, and he was remanded from Sep 19.

READ: Shell station robbery suspect goes missing during court break, warrant of arrest issued: Report

The court heard that Visvanathan had committed the armed robbery at a petrol station along Upper Bukit Timah Road two years ago as he was "desperate for money".

He covered part of the rear registration plate of his motorcycle with masking tape, wore a jacket, black gloves and sunglasses and armed himself with a kitchen knife.

He then rode his motorcycle to an Esso petrol station at 213 Upper Bukit Timah Road on Jul 31, 2017, but found it crowded and decided to switch targets.

He then headed to a nearby Shell petrol station at 219 Upper Bukit Timah Road and waited for a customer to leave before shouting at the cashier to open the cash register, while wielding his kitchen knife.

He took S$1,193 in cash from the register, placed it inside a plastic bag and fled on his motorbike, pausing to change his helmet and remove the gloves, jacket and sunglasses he wore.

READ: Shell petrol station robbery: First such case in Singapore in 10 years, police say

His actions were caught on closed-circuit television cameras at the petrol station, and witnesses saw him leaving and changing his attire.

He was arrested that same day after a police report was made, and said he had spent S$194 of the money on petrol, food and cigarettes.

While he was released on court bail, Visvanathan took heroin and methamphetamine.

This was uncovered in investigations that took place after he left brown and crystallised substances in ziplock bags at a men's toilet in Clementi Neighbourhood Police Centre on Sep 15, 2017.

The penalty for robbery is a jail term of between two and 10 years and at least six strokes of the cane. If the robber is armed, he must receive at least 12 strokes of the cane.

Source: CNA/ll(cy)

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