Jail, caning for driver who took part in gang robbery

SINGAPORE - A driver was sentenced to jail and caning on Thursday (Nov 2) after he admitted to robbing a jewellery wholesaler of valuables totalling $42,775.27.

Venkatachalapathy Raman, now 48, will spend four years and three months behind bars. He will also receive a mandatory 12 strokes of the cane.

The Indian national pleaded guilty in court to robbing Mr Yelchur Sreenivas, 51, with two accomplices.

Venkatachalapathy had specifically chosen their victim as he knew he was involved in the jewellery business.

He then roped in a man known only as Hassan, 36, and Srinath Bari Ramdeo Bari, 52, to commit the offence.

The wholesaler was carrying a haversack containing jewellery and diamond samples when he met a friend at a St George's Road coffee shop near Serangoon Road at around 9.30pm on May 25 last year.

Mr Yelchur left the eatery about two hours later and headed home.

While walking along a footpath at the nearby Towner Road, he felt somebody pulling his haversack from behind. He turned around and saw Venkatachalapathy, who shoved him to the ground.

Venkatachalapathy persisted in trying to snatch the haversack and ran away when he failed to do so.

According to court documents, Mr Yelchur was picking himself off the ground when Srinath came forward and used a wooden stick to repeatedly hit his right shoulder.

Venkatachalapathy returned to the scene, grabbed Mr Yelchur's haversack and ran away with Srinath.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sia Jiazheng said that Hassan acted as a lookout for the two men.

Mr Yelchur alerted the police about the robbery at around 12.30am on May 26 last year and officers arrested Venkatachalapathy later that day.

They managed to seize the haversack and recovered cash and valuables totalling $36,175.27.

Mr Yelchur sought treatment at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he was found to be suffering from injuries including bruises on his back and chest. He was given outpatient leave until May 28 last year.

DPP Sia said officers arrested Srinath in August last year, while Hassan was caught about nine months later. Their cases are still pending.

Offenders convicted of committing robbery between 7pm and 7am can be jailed for between three and 14 years. They will also receive at least 12 strokes of the cane.