Two jailed for conspiring to cheat a Little India shop involving jewellery worth $147,000

Two men were convicted and sentenced to jail for conspiring with a sales staff to cheat a Little India shop involving some $147,000 worth of jewellery items.

Indian nationals R Vijayasekaran and R Rajesh schemed with M Thenappan to exploit an instalment plan that Abiraame Jewellers offered to customers. The plan allowed for an initial deposit to be placed for items, with the balance paid within 90 days.

The offences occurred between February and May 2014.

But Vijay and Rajesh sent buyers to Abiraame's outlets to make initial payments after which the buyers would send the order forms to them who in turn passed them on to Thenappan who worked for the firm.

Thenappan faked entries on the forms to show subsequent payments were made to reduce the outstanding sums left. The amended forms would then be returned to the two co-accused who would give them to the appointed buyers. These buyers would then pay the reduced outstanding sums to claim the jewellery. At times , Rajesh would play the buyer role himself.

The jewellery would then be sold and the proceeds shared amongst the three.

Both Vijay, a minimart manager and Rajesh , a restaurant supervisor defended by lawyer A Ravi Shanker, denied the two charges each faced and disputed their statements to police in the run-up to the trial.

Rajesh, an employment pass holder, claimed in his defence that police had already taken statements from Thenappan and were " foisting" Thenappan's statement on him.

But the records disproved this as it emerged Thenappan's statement was taken some four hours after his was recorded.

District Judge Low Wee Ping, in the judgement grounds issued last month, said his oral testimony in court was " highly incredible" being filled with " too many internal inconsistencies and was contradicted by much objective evidence."

Vijay, who is a Permanent Resident here, claimed he had paid for all the order forms to Thenappan and the investigation statements taken from him were forced. He also claimed the interpeter did not explain the statements to him in detail.

The court found his testimony " telling", noting that he was an undischarged bankrupt at the time and was unable to explain how he made payments to buy the jewellery.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Vadivalagan argued that the large sums misappropriated and the absence of restitution aggravated matters. The prosecution added that both men had shown no remorse as the manner they conducted their defence scandalised the police.

The court noted the actual loss caused by both accused was significant and was not recovered by Abiraame. In the case of Ramesh, it was $50,000 and for Vijay, it was $12,000.

DJ Low covicted both and sentenced Rajesh to 20 months' jail on the two charges involving sums of $90,403 and $21,190. Vijay was jailed a total of 11 months for the two charges involving sums of $17,881 and $16,944.

Both men are appealing and are currently out on bail.

Thenappan is at large, having absconded while on bail.

vijayan@sph.com.sg