StanChart robbery: Singaporean woman witnessed dramatic arrest at Bangkok hostel

Boxpackers hostel, where David James Roach was staying in Thailand.
Boxpackers hostel, where David James Roach was staying in Thailand. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY
Canadian David James Roach was arrested on July 10 2016 in Bangkok.
Canadian David James Roach was arrested on July 10 2016 in Bangkok. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY

A Singaporean woman was getting ready for a day out in Bangkok at the Boxpackers Hostel just before noon on Sunday when a hostel worker opened the door of her dormitory room and gestured for her and her friend to leave quietly.

More than 10 plain-clothes police officers stood in the doorway with guns drawn, the 23-year-old civil servant, who declined to be named, told The Straits Times yesterday.

She later found out that the officers were there to arrest a fellow tourist staying in her 12-bed mixed dormitory room, who turned out to be the man who allegedly robbed the Standard Chartered Bank branch in Holland Village of $30,000 last Thursday.

 

The man had been sleeping just two beds away from her on the upper bunk and had "a piercing look", she said.

He had fled to Bangkok shortly after the robbery, arriving at 5pm Thailand time (6pm Singapore time) that day. He then checked in at the hostel in Petchburi Road in Ratchathewi district.

KEPT TO HIMSELF

He was quiet and his eyes were quite intense. He was calm and slowly eating his breakfast... he never once talked or smiled and seemed to be in his own world.

A 23-YEAR-OLD SINGAPOREAN WOMAN who stayed in the same dormitory room at the Bangkok hostel as the robbery suspect.

Yesterday, he was identified by the Thai media as 26-year-old Canadian David James Roach.

The Singaporean woman, who was in Bangkok for a holiday with her friend until yesterday, said she first noticed something amiss during breakfast on Sunday, when some 20 police officers arrived outside the hostel on motorcycles.

They remained in the vicinity even after she returned to the dormitory room on the fourth storey.

She was standing by the lockers in the room when the police officers appeared at about 11.45am. They were led by the hostel worker who gestured for her and her friend to leave the room quietly.

She said: "I was scared to see them holding guns and went downstairs very quickly. Some of the officers were wearing vests that said 'tourist police'. One even cocked his gun."

She said the suspect was skinny, about 1.8m tall, wore spectacles and sported a crew cut. She and her friend did not pass by the man's bed as they left the room, though she believes he was around at the time, with his bed curtains drawn.

She had noticed him at breakfast last Saturday because he had "a piercing look", she said. "He was quiet and his eyes were quite intense. He was calm and slowly eating his breakfast."

He was always on his own and "never once talked or smiled" during his stay and "seemed to be in his own world", she added.

She had bumped into him on the morning of the arrest at a common toilet, but avoided his gaze.

She said she had an inkling that the police presence at the hostel was linked to the Singapore robbery only when a police officer told her later that they wanted to "catch thief" who "steal from Singapore".

About 45 minutes after the police officers entered the dormitory room, she saw the suspect being led down a narrow staircase, without handcuffs. She said: "There were two police officers holding his wrists. (The suspect) gave me the same piercing look and then he was taken away."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2016, with the headline 'Singaporean woman witnessed dramatic arrest'. Print Edition | Subscribe