Two teens inspired by Crimewatch to rob sex workers given reformative training

Wong Casandra
Senior Reporter

SINGAPORE — Two teenagers who were inspired by local television series Crimewatch to rob sex workers were sentenced to reformative training of at least 12 months on Thursday (18 July).

John Karan Karunakaran, 18, and Theophileous Jebaraj, 16, last month each pleaded guilty to one charge of armed robbery.

A third accomplice, 14, who cannot be named due to his age, pleaded guilty to his crime at the Youth Courts in May. His next court hearing, where he is likely to be sentenced, is scheduled for 16 August.

The trio had met at night on 3 September last year to discuss their financial problems.

At the time, John was on probation while Theophileous was serving an 18-month sentence at the Singapore Boys’ Home, both of which were for other offences. They were not specified in court documents.

The 14-year-old boy suggested that they steal handphones but Theophileous felt that “the returns of stealing them were little” and suggested they commit robbery instead, according to court documents.

The elder teenager recalled watching an unspecified episode of Crimewatch about cases of illegal sex workers being robbed in Singapore.

The trio were then inspired to target these workers as they thought it was a “safer way of committing robbery”.

Two days later, following an online search by John, the trio decided to target two illegal sex workers from China who lived in a rented Housing & Development Board (HDB) flat along Woodlands Street 13.

They went to the flat at night where a 36-year-old woman opened the door and allowed them in as she thought they were customers.

Her housemate led Theophileous into her bedroom where he pulled out a fruit knife at her and demanded money. After a search of the room, he pocketed $100 in cash.

Theophileous later came out of the room and told his accomplices to search for valuables. They made off with another $100 before fleeing the flat.

The 36-year-old woman lodged a police report four days later on 9 September.

An hour prior to robbing the pair, the teenagers also robbed a man of $112 at an HDB block along Woodlands Ring Road, after Theophileous pointed a fruit knife at the victim.

Young offenders who are sentenced to reformative training, such as John and Theophileous, will spend between 18 months and three years at a reformative training centre, where they are made to follow a strict regimen, which includes foot drills and counselling.

If convicted of armed robbery, offenders can face a jail term of between three and 14 years, and receive at least 12 strokes of the cane.

More Singapore stories:

Lions face tough 2022 World Cup qualifying group, drawn with Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Palestine

Spurs arrive for International Champions Cup with popular stars, new signing

Gardens by the Bay murder: Man found guilty of killing mistress, burning her body to ash