SINGAPORE - A former scholar from Republic Polytechnic was sentenced to 2½ years' jail and the minimum six strokes of the cane on Thursday (Nov 10) for robbing a receptionist at a spa earlier this year .
Shaun Ow Wei Yang, 25, admitted to robbing Thai national Virayarutjannon Thitimon, 40, of $850 at Rose Spa in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 at about 2.30pm on Jan 20.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Caleb Tan said in early January, Ow was in need of money and formed a plan to earn "easy money" by committing robbery.
The unemployed man intended to target massage parlours that provided illegal sexual services and identified such shops by carrying out research in an Internet forum that discussed commercial sex in Singapore.
He went to the NTUC supermarket in Ang Mo Kio Hub to buy a fruit knife and some face masks.
On Jan 20, donning a mask, Ow entered Rose Spa, took out the fruit knife and pointed it at Ms Thitimon. He demanded that she put all the money in the cash register into a plastic bag.
She complied out of fear. Ow took the plastic bag and fled to Northpoint Shopping Centre where he deposited $800 into his UOB bank account.
Ow has previous convictions for using indecent language towards a public servant and causing hurt.
Seeking a 2½-year jail sentence plus caning, DPP Tan said Ow had a propensity for committing violent offences. He did extensive research on the victim to target and bought items deemed necessary for the offence.
Ow's lawyer Alice Tan, assigned by Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, said Ow was a promising student at Republic Polytechnic, having done well enough to have won the merit award and diploma prize in 2010 and a scholarship in 2010 and 2011.
But his psychiatric condition - obsessive compulsive disorder - prevented Ow from holding on to a job. He would shower for two to four hours and wash his hands up to 50 times a day, the court heard.
Ms Tan said that Ow's mother, a single parent, underwent surgery because of a tumour in her head in April 2015 but doctors were unable to remove it. She lost her right vision and is at risk of losing her sight on the left eye, Ms Tan added.
An attempted robbery charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.
Ow, who will begin his sentence on Dec 12, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and caned for robbery.