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Condominium security guard jailed for trying to extort S$10,000 from visitor, claiming he trespassed

Condominium security guard jailed for trying to extort S$10,000 from visitor, claiming he trespassed

The exterior of Seahill condominium. (Photo: Google Street View)

SINGAPORE: A condominium security guard posed as a police officer and tried to extort S$10,000 from a visitor, claiming to have evidence that the man illegally entered the condominium and had sex inside a toilet.

Ganesan Gunasagaran, 33, was on Thursday (Apr 21) jailed two years and three months and sentenced to three strokes of the cane.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of putting a person in fear of harm in order to commit extortion. Two other charges were considered for sentencing.

Ganesan was a senior security officer employed by Metropolis Security Systems. He was deployed to Seahill condominium at the time of the offence in October last year.

The condominium's management required all visitors to report to the guard house and do SafeEntry check-in before entering the estate. Ganesan's responsibilities as a security guard were to ensure that visitors did this and to conduct patrols.

On the night of Oct 19, 2021, the victim, a 29-year-old Japanese man, visited a 26-year-old Japanese woman who lived at Seahill. They were both teachers.

The victim entered the condominium without first reporting to the guard house or checking in on SafeEntry. At about 11pm, he and the woman went into a handicap toilet in the condominium together.

Ganesan was on the same floor at this time and saw the victim and witness after they had left the toilet and were talking nearby.

He approached them and accused the victim of trespassing into Seahill. He also claimed to have photographed them leaving the toilet together.

Ganesan insisted that the victim had committed "serious offences" for which he could be jailed, and said he wanted to "help" the victim, court documents stated.

As the woman was frightened by Ganesan's behaviour, the security guard and the victim agreed to take the conversation elsewhere. They continued talking at a bench at West Coast Park, arriving at about 1am on Oct 20, 2021.

CONVERSATION AT THE PARK

Ganesan told the victim not to worry and said he could "do something" for the Japanese man. Ganesan and the victim both understood this to mean that the security guard wanted to extort money.

The victim started using his phone to record his conversation with Ganesan, on the pretext that he was texting the woman.

Ganesan then asked the victim, "How you want to settle?" When the victim asked if he wanted "tips", Ganesan asked for S$10,000.

Ganesan claimed that the victim and woman's faces were clearly caught on camera and that he had to review 90 cameras' worth of footage to delete all the relevant parts.

Ganesan also emphasised to the victim that he would be charged in court, sent to prison and "sack out from the country" for his actions.

He claimed to be a "highly officer" with the "police licensing sector" working "undercover", stated court documents.

Fearful, the victim agreed to pay Ganesan S$2,000 first and transfer the remainder within a week. He asked to return home to prepare the money and the security guard agreed.

THREATENING CALLS AND MESSAGES

For the rest of that day, Ganesan continued to threaten the victim with calls and text messages.

He sent the victim screenshots of CCTV footage of the handicap toilet. He also claimed to work at the Police Cantonment Complex and sent photos of the building to bolster this claim.

In the evening, he claimed to have told police officers about the victim's "illegal entry to estate" and that he "had sex inside the toilet with student".

He told the victim to "standby (his) Japan embassy" and be prepared to "handover your S'pass/permit". He also demanded that the victim call him back to answer questions about the witness' age.

"He told the victim this to instil a sense of urgency in paying him," stated court documents.

Later, Ganesan claimed to have placed a "hold" on investigations, and said that he knew the owner of the apartment in which the woman lived.

That same night, the victim made a police report and Ganesan was arrested the next morning.

VICTIM RISKED LOSING JOB AND RESIDENCY

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Choong asked for two-and-a-half years' jail and three to six strokes of the cane, citing Ganesan's "extended course of conduct, which instilled fear in the victim over 22 hours".

He argued that Ganesan exploited "a vulnerable victim found in a compromising position", highlighting that the victim and the woman were foreign nationals.

"They risk losing their jobs and residency in Singapore should the accused follow through with his threat to disseminate what they allegedly did at Seahill," said the prosecutor.

Mr Choong also cited Ganesan's impersonation of a police officer and the relatively high sum of S$10,000 that he tried to extort as aggravating.

He also argued that Ganesan betrayed the trust placed in him by Seahill, by seeking a bribe in exchange for not taking action against the victim for entering without SafeEntry.

Ganesan, who was not represented, asked for leniency as he was the sole breadwinner supporting his parents, whom he said faced health and financial problems.

He also said the COVID-19 pandemic had pushed him into a "depression", and at one point interrupted the proceedings as he was feeling dizzy.

The punishment for putting a person in fear of harm in order to commit extortion is two to five years' jail and caning.

Source: CNA/dv(ta)

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