Thai court jails StanChart robbery suspect 14 months for money laundering and other charges

David Roach was given a year's jail for money laundering, four months for violating the foreign exchange act and another year for not declaring he was carrying more than US$20,000 equivalent.
David Roach was given a year's jail for money laundering, four months for violating the foreign exchange act and another year for not declaring he was carrying more than US$20,000 equivalent.PHOTO: ROYAL THAI POLICE

The Canadian man wanted in Singapore for robbing a bank in Holland Village last year was sentenced on Tuesday (June 6) to 14 months in jail by a criminal court in Thailand.

Ironically, the charges that 28-year-old David Roach pleaded guilty to include failing to declare that he was carrying the equivalent of more than US$20,000 - believed to be the loot from the bank robbery - when he entered Thailand while on the run.

Tuesday's verdict was the latest twist in the Roach case, who allegedly carried out the first successful bank robbery in Singapore in more than a decade.

On July 7 at around 11.30am, Roach is alleged to have walked into a Standard Chartered Bank branch at Holland Village wearing a hoodie and cap, handed the teller a slip of paper with his demands and slipped away with about $30,000 - all in just a matter of minutes.

The note had supposedly read: "This is a robbery, I have a weapon, give me money, don't call the police."

Authorities combed the area for the suspect, but Roach, who had purchased an air ticket to Thailand earlier, is believed to had taken a cab to Changi Airport.

He arrived in Bangkok at 5pm, and by the evening, had checked into a shared dormitory room at the Boxpackers Hostel in the popular Ratchathewi district, initially paying for a two-night stay, before extending for another night.

Singapore police had already figured out his identity and informed their Thai counterparts. On July 9, he was nabbed by the Royal Thai Police, who had zeroed in on Roach using CCTV cameras in the area.

Most of the $30,000 cash he allegedly robbed was recovered by Thai police, as well as a notebook detailing his escape plan including stopovers in Chiang Mai and Dubai.

 
 

The Thai police added that as part of Roach's elaborate plan to avoid being caught, he starved himself and slimmed down to appear different from his passport photo.

Singapore authorities wrote to the Thai government seeking assistance to repatriate the Canadian. Thailand, however, rejected the request as it does not have any extradition treaty with Singapore.

According to Thai media, he was charged with violating currency regulations and money laundering. Travellers going in and out of Thailand are required to declare to customs if they have more than US$20,000 or its equivalent in their possession.

"The suspect confessed to all charges during the investigation process," the court said.

Roach was given a year's jail for money laundering, four months for violating the foreign exchange act and another year for not declaring he was carrying more than US$20,000 equivalent.

His sentenced was halved because he had confessed. The money found on him has also been seized.

Local reports also quoted Mr Roach's lawyer as saying that the Canadian admitted only to smuggling currency to Thailand but not to the Singapore robbery.

Roach has until July 6 to make an appeal and the lawyer was consulting with relatives on whether he should.

Shortly after Tuesday's ruling, Mr Roach was brought back to the Klong Prem Central Prison.