SINGAPORE: Armed with a fruit knife, a teenager robbed a 7-Eleven store in Sengkang of six packets of cigarettes and a burger.
According to his lawyer, he did so as he felt a sudden urge to mimic scenes he saw in movies involving robberies.
He also knew that there would be only one employee working there that night, and was hungry and did not have money to buy food.
Jacob Seow, 18, pleaded guilty on Friday (Feb 21) to one charge of robbery, which had been reduced from armed robbery.
The court heard that Seow decided to rob the outlet at Block 403A, Fernvale Lane, on Aug 3 last year.
He took a fruit knife from his kitchen, stored it in his pocket, and left home at 12.30am on Aug 4.
He went into the shop, which was manned by a 21-year-old store assistant, and placed a chocolate bar on the cashier counter to draw the victim there.
POINTED KNIFE AT VICTIM, DEMANDING CASH AND CIGARETTES
He then pointed his fruit knife at the victim, before placing a backpack on the counter and demanding that the victim place money and cigarettes inside.
The victim told him he could put only cigarettes inside, as he could not open the cash register, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sean Teh.
Seow then took six packets of cigarettes costing between S$12.60 and S$14.30 and placed them in his bag.
He allowed the victim to keep his mobile phone, before taking a $2.90 Cheesy Chicken burger from the fridge.
He then placed his hands on the victim's neck and strangled him, intending to make him faint and delay him from calling the police.
However, he stopped his actions as he feared passers-by would come into the store, and thanked the victim for allowing him to steal before leaving.
Seow then went to a basketball court near his home and changed into another set of clothing he had kept in his backpack.
He ate the stolen burger and smoked one of the cigarettes. He wanted to rob another 7-Eleven outlet nearby, as he did not manage to get any cash earlier, but changed his mind when near the store as he did not have a fresh set of clothes to change into after.
The prosecutor said he did not object to the calling of both probation and reformative training suitability reports, given the seriousness of the offence.
However, he reserved his position on sentence until the reports came in.
CLIENT IS YOUNG, REMORSEFUL: DEFENCE
Defence lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy of IRB Law asked for a probation report, saying his client was young and that this is his first brush with the law.
However, he did not object to the prosecution's calling for a reformative training report, as he said the offence is "a serious one".
He said Seow, who is currently serving national service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force, is extremely sorry and has written a letter of apology to the victim.
"Our client has realised the gravity of his actions and completely understands that his actions are not only illegal, but had put the victim under considerable fear and trauma," said Mr Ganapathy.
Seow's parents divorced when he was a child, and he was brought up by his mother and her partner. They have noticed a considerable positive change in Seow's attitude and he is now listening to them and abandoning his rebelliousness, said the lawyer.
He said Seow's reason for the offence was that he had seen movies involving robberies and felt the sudden urge to mimic them.
"When probed further as to why our client wanted to mimic the robbery scenes he had seen on the television, our client merely kept silent and periodically asserted that he was wrong and 'evil' to do such a thing," said the lawyer.
Seow also explained that he felt hungry and had no money to buy food, and says he is extremely angry with himself for bringing shame to his family.
The judge called for both probation and reformative training reports, while Seow was remanded and will return to court for sentencing on Feb 28.