21-year-old Grab driver gets reformative training for role in gang robbery

SINGAPORE -It was a job that this young Grab driver should not have accepted.

Student Valerie Emmanuelle Ramanee agreed to help four robbers rent a car and steal $300,000 in cash from four men, who had collected it from fellow Bangladeshis to send back to their native country.

The 21-year-old, who was working for the ride-hailing service at the time of the robbery last December, was on Wednesday (May 30) sentenced to reformative training on one count each of obstructing the course of justice and misuse of drugs.

She will spend between 18 months and three years at a reformative training centre (RTC) and follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.

Ramanee is the first person to be dealt with in relation to the robbery, believed to have involved 11 other people.

The court heard that at around 3am on Dec 11, four men posing as Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers turned up at the Bangladeshi men's Rowell Road address and searched their room, then fled with the money in a silver Volvo.

The court heard that Ramanee had been asked by Udaya Kumar Manoker, 21, to help him rent a vehicle so that she could drive them to a "job".

It is not known how she came to know Udaya - or his boss Shanker Mahalingam, 30 - but she agreed to help and, along with Udaya, rented and picked up the Volvo on Dec 10 at around 11pm.

Udaya drove the Volvo to Rangoon Lane with Ramanee following in her black Peugeot.

At the carpark, she was instructed by Udaya to buy five pairs of gloves and duct tape from Mustafa Centre, which he used to stick the false plates on the Volvo.

She then drove to Veerasamy Road with Mohamed Safit Hassan Mohamed Ayub, 25, to wait as the robbery took place.

As she drove back to the carpark after the crime, she was informed by Safit that the Volvo was used for purposes related to "robbery or kidnapping". It is not known if she had known about the crime before Safit told her.

Ramanee watched Udaya remove the fake plates and wipe the interior and exterior of the Volvo. He placed the plates inside Ramanee's car and she threw them away when she got home.

Ramanee and Udaya later returned the car to its owner, and she was paid $500 for her role in the crime.

The court heard that Ramanee had been released on bail at the time of the robbery, after she tested positive for smoking "ice" - the street name for methamphetamine - last November.

District Judge May Mesenas told her: "You're already 21, these are very serious offences...if you want to continue to do drugs, then you know where your path is headed."

She added that she hoped Ramanee would make good use of the rehabilitative programmes available at the Reformative Training Centre.

It is believed that the 11 other people suspected of involvement in the crime have been arrested and that their cases are pending.

Only $5,500 of the $300,000 has been recovered.

For obstructing the course of justice, Ramanee could have faced up to seven years in jail, fined, or both.