SINGAPORE — An AETOS auxiliary officer who decided to replicate the 2016 Standard Chartered robbery and rob a licensed moneylender while armed was sentenced on Tuesday (13 September) to 16 years and six months' jail as well as 18 strokes of the cane.
CNA reported that Mahadi Muhamad Mukhtar, 39, pleaded guilty to three charges of robbery, unlawfully carrying a revolver and unlawful possession of ammunition. Another two charges were taken into consideration.
The court heard that Mahadi was facing mounting debts after borrowing from six unlicensed moneylenders in February 2021.
He began borrowing from his friends and taking bank loans, but eventually decided to commit robbery to solve his financial problems.
He began researching robberies on the Internet, and decided to rob a licensed moneylender. He settled on an OT Credit outlet at Block 135, Jurong Gateway Road, as it was staffed by women, was not usually crowded and had previously been robbed.
Showed note demanding money from outlet
On 12 April 2021, Mahadi went to the outlet to ensure it was open for business, and that two female employees were on duty.
CNA reported that he went to cover a colleague's shift at AETOS complex first. Later that afternoon, he loaded five rounds of ammunition into his M85 Taurus revolver and placed it in his sling bag.
He changed out of his AETOS uniform and took a Grab ride to Jurong Gateway Road with the loaded revolver in his bag.
Armed with the gun, Mahadi walked into OT Credit and showed a staff member a note stating, “This is a robbery, don’t shout. I got gun in my pocket. Put all the money in the bag.”
The approach was similar to what Canadian James Roach did when he robbed a StanChart bank branch at Holland Village in 2016.
The staff member hit the panic button under the table before complying with Mahadi's instruction to put money inside his sling bag.
Mahadi left the store with about $24,800 in his sling bag and booked a GrabCar to Boon Lay Shopping Centre. He deposited $10,000 at an OCBC ATM, and another $14,000 into a POSB bank account. He made four online banking transactions transferring about $11,850 to loan sharks, and threw away the robbery note after tearing it up.
He was arrested five hours later after the authorities used footage from police cameras and the shop’s CCTV.
Severity of the case emphasised
The bulk of the robbery proceeds were recovered, but no restitution was made of the remainder, which amounts to about S$5,000.
CNA reported that Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh asked for 15 to 20 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane. Emphasising the severity of the case, he said, "This is a case where an auxiliary police officer makes off with his loaded service revolver and brings it with him to commit a serious crime, a robbery."
Koh added that there was a pressing public interest to guard against such crimes, noting the abuse of trust by Mahadi, who had been entrusted with a firearm for his duties.
There was also a high level of premeditation and planning as seen from his Internet searches and considering of various options to commit the robbery, as well as surveillance of his chosen target.
"We note that concern that the accused had copied the James Roach robbery, and this signals that the sentence in the James Roach robbery is not severe enough to send a message that such behaviour is not acceptable," said Koh, adding that a stronger message needs to be sent.
Defence lawyer Mark Yeo of Kalco Law asked instead for 10 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane, the mandatory minimum. He said his client had no prior convictions and had cooperated with the police and confessed everything.
According to CNA, Yeo said the sentence the prosecution was asking for was manifestly excessive, adding that his client may have committed serious offences but "is not beyond redemption".
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