Western Union robber gets jail term of almost 5 years

An armed robber who was caught after a three-day nationwide hunt last year was jailed for almost five years yesterday.

Hashim Hamzah, who had previously been convicted of drug offences, pointed a 15cm hacksaw blade at a staff member of a Western Union branch before making off with $650 in cash last August.

Police trawled through more than 1,000 hours of closed-circuit television footage before catching the 58-year-old Singaporean.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of armed robbery and another of possessing a controlled drug.

The court heard that Hashim was struggling to make ends meet after being released from prison in 2014.

Apart from jobs as a forklift operator and cleaner, he also considered selling discarded items but realised this would not make him enough money to settle his debt, the court heard.

So, on Aug 1 last year, he armed himself with the blade and entered the money remittance outlet in Ubi wearing a white helmet and a green disposable mask, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Rimplejit Kaur.

After fleeing with the cash, Hashim went to a licensed moneylender to repay his $400 loan and spent $200 on food, drinks, cigarettes, 4D lottery tickets and heroin. He was nabbed on Aug 3 in Pasir Ris Drive 6.

The prosecutor said Hashim had displayed a "brazen disregard" for the law by committing the offence in broad daylight and made a "speedy relapse" to crime.

Hashim's lawyer, Mr Melvin Loh, said his client was in a financial rut as he could not find a job.

He had initially contemplated using the hacksaw blade to take his own life, but later decided against it after considering his faith and family responsibilities, Mr Loh added.

Hashim was jailed for a total of four years and nine months. His sentence was backdated to Aug 5 last year.

For committing armed robbery, Hashim could have been jailed for 10 years. He cannot be caned as he is above 50.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2018, with the headline 'Western Union robber gets jail term of almost 5 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe