Four found guilty of $1.27 million Little India 'bogus cop' gang robbery

SINGAPORE - Four men who staged a fake police raid to steal more than $1 million from a Little India lodging house were convicted of gang robbery on Friday.

Two of them, music teacher Magesan Ramasamy, 36, and Mohamed Faizal Ajmalhan, 32, were also found guilty of posing as police officers.

They forced their way into the rooms of three Indian businessmen in Dunlop Street on Sept 10, 2012. After demanding their passports, the fake cops restrained the victims and their guests with flexi-cuffs and ordered them to sit or kneel before taking around $1.27 million.

Construction workers Arunachalam Lakshmanan, 37, and Chinnaya Antony Samy, 38, kept a look-out on the street.

These two men provided the rest of the gang with information about the victims, who they believed were involved in illegal money remittance.

A fifth member of the group, taxi driver and police reservist Mohammad Ansari Abdul Hussain provided the police uniforms and also posed as a cop. He pleaded guilty to gang robbery and impersonating a public servant in 2013 and was sentenced to eight years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

Speaking after a 23-day trial, District Judge Low Wee Ping said: "This started as a ruse, but developed into a robbery.

"From the point of the victims, they were frightened, they were restrained, they had the fear of hurt being caused."

Magesan and Faizal's lawyers had argued that their clients had committed not robbery but the lesser crime of cheating by impersonation, as the victims had allowed them to take their money because they thought they were policemen.

Meanwhile, the defence for Arunachalam and Chinnaya had maintained the two had not even been physically present at the time of the robbery, and that they had provided Magesan and Ansari with information about the victims because they believed them to be real police officers.

The four Indian nationals had initially faced a plethora of other charges concerning earlier robberies and attempted robberies of moneychangers at Beach Road, Cecil Street, and an underpass at Ang Mo Kio MRT. These charges were taken into consideration or withdrawn.

They will be sentenced on June 16.

Gang robbery is punishable with a prison term of five to 20 years and at least 12 strokes of the cane.

The punishment for impersonating a police officer is a jail term of up to two years, a fine, or both.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg