SINGAPORE — A 19-year-old man who robbed a licensed moneylending shop in Jurong after locking up a female employee working there was given a year's detention in a reformative training centre on Thursday (18 February).
Armed with a knife, Kotta Kumar Jeswanth had targetted OT Credit on 19 November 2020, more than a week before he was due to receive his sentence for a prior offence involving affray, causing hurt, and breaching COVID-19 regulations.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to one count each of committing armed robbery, causing hurt with common intention, and wrongful restraint with common intention and mischief. One count of theft with common intention was taken into account for sentencing.
Kotta's lawyer Patrick Fernandez unsuccessfully argued for a probation term of a year together with conditions, such as a time curfew and 240 hours of community service or a reformative training term of six months.
In arguing for rehabilitation to be the primary sentencing consideration, the lawyer pointed out that in Kotta's initial probation report for his earlier offences, Kotta was assessed to have a high capacity to be rehabilitated.
Fernandez added told that Kotta had strong familial support and that his parents were committed to supervise him. If Kotta were placed on probation, he would resume his studies or enlist into National Service earlier, said the lawyer.
The lawyer told District Judge May Mesenas that his client was not the mastermind of the armed robbery but was under the influence of friends who had suggested the robbery to resolve financial issues.
However, DJ Mesenas rejected the probation term in favour of reformative training, which is a more serious sentencing option for offenders below the age of 21 and results in a criminal record.
Kotta was placed on electronic tagging while awaiting to be sentenced on 30 November last year. But on 19 November, he cut the tag, causing damage of $500 to the Singapore Prison Service.
Following a discussion with his accomplices Karrtik Stalniraj and Tusheintar Segaran, the trio agreed to rob OT Credit, located at Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road, as typically there were only two female assistants there.
On 19 November, Kotta and his accomplices lurked in the vicinity of the shop at noon to observe its surroundings and found only one assistant present.
At about 4.10pm, the trio entered the shop, with Kotta pulling the woman by her hair and holding a karambit knife in the other hand. He told the woman not to shout and demanded that she throw money into a grey haversack, which he was carrying in front of his body.
Fearing for her safety, the woman did so. Meanwhile, Karrtik searched the shop for more money and Tusheintar acted as a lookout.
After the victim had placed cash inside the haversack, Kotta brought her to the back of the shop and locked her inside the back office. The three fled with $48,000 in loot.
The entire robbery was captured on CCTV.
They met another person, known as Arunasalam Kannan, at a cemetery in Lim Chu Kang to split the loot. Kotta took $14,000, of which $8,000 was for his girlfriend and family. He asked Arunasalam to pass the money to them. He then gave the weapon and bag to Arunasalam to dispose of.
Kotta was arrested the next day in Geylang after he was identified by the victim and the co-accused persons.
The cases for Arunasalam, Karrtik and Tusheintar are still pending before the court.
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