Grab driver gets reformative training for role in robbery

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. They 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 yesterday 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 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 officers turned up at the Bangladeshis' Rowell Road address, searched their room, and then fled with the money in a silver Volvo.

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

After the crime, Safit told her the Volvo was used for purposes related to "robbery or kidnapping".

Udaya removed the fake plates and wiped the interior and exterior of the Volvo. He put the plates inside Ramanee's car and she threw them away when she got home. She was paid $500 for her role.

The court heard that she 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.

It is believed that the other 11 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2018, with the headline 'Grab driver gets reformative training for role in robbery'. Print Edition | Subscribe