SINGAPORE: Almost four years after he fled the country following an alleged robbery of a Standard Chartered bank branch, Canadian national David James Roach was charged with the offences in Singapore's courts.
Roach, whose escape to Thailand and subsequent extraditions were widely publicised in international media, was denied bail after the prosecution made arguments on the issue.
Roach was given one charge on Tuesday (Mar 17) afternoon of robbing a StanChart employee of S$30,450 on the morning of Jul 7, 2016 at the bank branch in Holland Avenue.
He was handed a second charge of removing the money, which were criminal proceeds, out of Singapore.
The prosecution said it was ready and proceeding on both charges.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Marcus Foo urged the court not to grant Roach, who remains unrepresented, bail. The offences in the case are non-bailable.
"To begin with, it must be underscored that the accused fled the jurisdiction - and it has taken more than three years to produce him before our courts," said Mr Foo. "He should not be allowed to slip through our grasp again."
He said the nature and gravity of the offences are serious, with a corresponding risk that Roach would flee Singapore to avoid facing heavy penalties.
"The flight risk is high," said Mr Foo. "The accused is a foreigner with no ties to Singapore. While there is every incentive to abscond, there are no costs or 'pull' for the accused to attend court or avail himself for investigations."
He pointed out that Roach had fled jurisdiction in 2016, "arising from careful planning aimed to evade enforcement authorities".
"When extradition proceedings commenced, the accused persisted in his efforts to avoid facing proceedings here," said Mr Foo. "There is a real and present risk that he would seek to avoid court proceedings, if bail is granted, accordingly."
In response, Roach said: "I'm not asking for bail."
District Judge Terence Tay agreed that there was a high flight risk given Roach's previous conduct, and ruled that there would be no bail.
"I HAVE A GUN IN MY BAG"
The prosecution in his submissions gave a summary of the alleged offence and the subsequent chain of events.
He added that Roach had entered Singapore on Jun 29, 2016 on a social visit pass, and that this was his first time in Singapore. He had no known associates or family living here.
He turned up at the Holland Avenue StanChart bank outlet days later on Jul 7, 2016, and handed the woman at the counter a piece of paper.
It read: "This is a robbery. I have a gun in my bag."
After reading it, the woman looked at Roach, who put his hand into his bag to give the impression that he possessed a weapon, said the prosecutor.
Believing that he had a gun and fearing for her life, the woman withdrew the requested cash and handed it over.
Roach then left Singapore that day, boarding a flight to Bangkok at about 2.40pm.
On Jul 10, 2016, Thai authorities informed Singapore police that they had detained Roach, and that he was charged because he carried cash worth more than US$20,000 into Thailand.
He was given other charges in Thailand for bringing in Singapore currency, which are restricted goods there, as well as converting the currency into Thai baht.
He pleaded guilty in Thailand and was sentenced to 14 months' jail. He was released on Jan 10, 2018 and repatriated to Canada a day later.
Roach was detained again while transiting through Britain as the Singapore Police Force had put in an arrest request.
Roach challenged the extradition to Singapore and failed in his numerous appeals before being handed over to SPF and taken to Singapore.
Roach, who is now remanded, will return to court via video-link on Apr 7.
If convicted of robbery, he could be sentenced to between two and 10 years' jail and at least six strokes of the cane.
If found guilty of moving criminal proceeds out of Singapore, he could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined a maximum S$500,000, or both.