Ex-Aetos officer gets over 16 years' jail, caning for armed robbery
A debt-ridden Aetos auxiliary officer who robbed a licensed moneylending company in Jurong while armed with a loaded gun was sentenced to 16½ years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane on Tuesday.
Mahadi Muhamad Mukhtar, 39, admitted in court that he decided to copy the approach used by David James Roach, the Canadian who robbed Standard Chartered bank in 2016, after writing his demands in a note.
At 3.30pm on April 12 last year, Mahadi, who was not in uniform but was carrying his service revolver loaded with five rounds, passed the note to a loan officer at OT Credit at Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road.
After making off with more than $24,800,he transferred some of the stolen cash to a friend and deposited $14,000 into his bank account.
He then returned to Aetos headquarters, changed into his uniform and carried out his duties.
Mahadi later transferred more than $11,000 to four loansharks via online banking and threw the torn-up note into a dustbin outside ST Engineering, where he was deployed to work.
He was arrested less than five hours later.
Police said then that it was the first time in 15 years that a gun had been used in armed robbery. The last armed robbery involving a firearm happened in 2006 at a 4-D outlet at Sun Plaza Shopping Centre.
The bulk of the money was later recovered by investigators who traced the funds but $5,200 remain missing. The note was also recovered.
On Tuesday, former Aetos employee Mahadi pleaded guilty to two charges under the Armed Offences Act - one for unlawful possesion of a firearm and one for unlawfully carrying a firearm - and one charge of robbery.
The High Court heard that Mahadi started borrowing money from loansharks in February last year to pay off bank loans, and owed money to six unlicensed moneylenders.
He decided to commit robbery to solve his financial woes and his phone's browsing history showed that he had researched the subject of robbery, said prosecutors.
The court heard that he first thought of robbing a jewellery store but dropped the idea as the loot would be difficult to sell.
He then decided to rob a licensed moneylender, and selected OT Credit as it was staffed by women and had been previously robbed.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh sought 15 to 20 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane.
He said a stiff deterence sentence was necessary to send the message that Mahadi's behaviour was unacceptable and should not be copied.
The prosecutor said the fact that Mahadi had copied Roach's robbery showed that a stronger message needed to be sent.
Defence consel Mark Yeo, who asked for 10 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane, said Mahadi had intended to turn himself in after his shift.
Mr Yeo noted that the staff at OT Credit did not know he had a revolver with him or that he was an Aetos officer.
A person convicted of unlawful possession of firearms or ammunition faces between five and 10 years in jail and at least six strokes of the cane.
Anyone who unlawfully carries any firearm faces between five and 14 years in jail and at least six strokes of the cane.
A person convicted of committing robbery faces between two and 10 years' jail and at least six stokes of the cane.
Roach was sentenced to five years' jail and six strokes of the cane for robbing a bank. He later had his caning sentence remitted, to fulfill the assurance that the Singapore Government had given to Britain in order to secure to secure his extradition.