Man sentenced to jail, caning for possession of air pistol in unexecuted bank robbery attempt

Ng Shi Qiang, 31, was jailed for five years and nine months and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane, after pleading guilty to having unlawful possession of a Beretta pistol. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Ng Shi Qiang, 31, was jailed for five years and nine months and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane, after pleading guilty to having unlawful possession of a Beretta pistol. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A security executive who was facing financial difficulties came up with an elaborate plan to rob a bank with an illegal air pistol - but got cold feet at the last minute and went to work instead.

Ng Shi Qiang, 31, did extensive online research on bank heists and carried out reconnaissance missions at several banks here.

He decided to target the POSB outlet in Block 926 Yishun Central 1 and turned up there on the morning of Oct 14, 2013, carrying a bag with the pistol and other equipment.

Ng could not bring himself to carry out his plan to rush in the front door when two women arrived to unlock it, as he did not want to hurt them.

He left and stashed the items in a dry riser unit at a nearby HDB block.

But by the time he returned to retrieve them two days later, a resident had already discovered them and called the police.

On Wednesday, Ng was jailed for five years and nine months and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane, after pleading guilty to having unlawful possession of the Beretta pistol. One other charge under the Arms Offences Act, for having various component parts of firearms, was taken into consideration.

The court heard that Ng had received the air pistol from his 27-year-old brother, a regular serviceman in the Singapore Navy. His brother had brought it back from Taiwan in May 2013.

He later decided to rob a bank to pay off his debts, which included $50,000 chalked up on credit cards and a $100,000 loan from his mother-in-law.

Ng has two young children and previously worked as a security guard and army regular.

He could have been jailed for between five and 10 years, and ordered to be given at least six strokes of the cane.

pohian@sph.com.sg