Driver in robbery gets jail and cane

He drove four men to rob money changer of $24k, two cellphones in Woodlands in 2010

A man who drove four others in a car to rob a money changer of more than $20,000 was sentenced to 21/2 years in jail and six strokes of the cane yesterday.

Malaysian crane operator Elanggovan Gopalan, 34, had pleaded guilty to robbing Mr Chang Lai Huat, 60, of $24,000 and two mobile phones worth $500 with his compatriot Vijajathevan Kanniy, 34, and three other unknown men at Woodlands Civic Centre on May 31, 2010.

The four are still at large.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Prakash Otharam said Elanggovan met Vijajathevan in Woodlands Centre Road that day.

Vijajathevan told Elanggovan about a "job" and asked him to drive a car to be used in a robbery.

He handed him the key to a Malaysian-registered Proton Wira and told him to wait for instructions.

A few minutes later, Elanggovan received a call asking him to pick up Vijajathevan near Marsiling MRT station. When he arrived, three other men hopped into the car as well. He drove the group to Woodlands Square, where the four alighted.

Mr Chang, a Malaysian, was about to enter Woodlands Civic Centre when one of the men grabbed his neck while two others held his hands. They dragged him into the back seat of the car.

There, one or more of the men punched him in his face a few times. Another covered his head with a dark shirt and pushed his head down.

They took his cash and mobile phones, and pushed him out of the car a few minutes later.

In mitigation, Elanggovan's lawyer N. Kanagavijayan said his client had no idea before May 31, 2010 that Vijajathevan wanted to commit a robbery. Neither did he know that three more men were involved.

He said at all times, his client played a minor and subordinate role in the robbery, and deeply regretted taking part in the robbery.

He said at no time did Elanggovan assault or confront the victim.

Elanggovan's sentence was backdated to his remand on Aug 5 last year. He could have been jailed for up to 10 years on top of the minimum six strokes of the cane.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline 'Driver in robbery gets jail and cane'. Print Edition | Subscribe