SINGAPORE — While awaiting sentencing for an offence, a 19-year-old man robbed a licensed moneylender in Jurong, locking a female shop assistant in the back office before fleeing with $48,000.
Together with two others, Kotta Kumar Jeswanth, who had cut off his electronic tag, targetted OT Credit. He was armed with a knife and also pulled the assistant’s hair.
On Wednesday (20 January), Kotta pleaded guilty to one count each of committing armed robbery and causing hurt with common intention, wrongful restrain with common intention and mischief. One count of theft with common intention will be taken into account for sentencing.
A reformative training suitability report was called for Kotta, along with a probation suitability report, though the latter was previously called for.
His earlier offences, which he pleaded guilty to on 19 October last year, involve affray, meeting others not in his household during the circuit breaker period, and slapping a man in September 2019.
The day of the robbery
Kotta was placed on electronic tagging while awaiting to be sentenced on 30 November last year. But on 19 November, he cut the tag, causing damage of $500 to the Singapore Prison Service.
Following a discussion with Karrtik Stalniraj and Tusheintar Segaran, the trio agreed to rob OT Credit, located at Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road, as there were only two female assistants there.
On the same day that he cut the tag, Kotta and his accomplices lurked in the vicinity of the shop at noon to observe its surroundings. Only one assistant was present.
At about 4.10pm, the trio entered the shop, with Kotta pulling the woman by her hair and holding a Karambit knife in the other hand. He told the woman not to shout and demanded that she throw money into a grey haversack which he was carrying in front of his body.
Fearing for her safety, the woman did so. Meanwhile, Karrtik searched the shop for more money and Tusheintar acted as a lookout.
After the victim had placed cash inside the haversack, Kotta brought her to the back of the shop and locked her inside the back office. The three fled with $48,000 in loot.
The entire robbery was captured on CCTV.
They met another person, known as Arunasalam Kannan, at a cemetery in Lim Chu Kang to split the loot. Kotta took $14,000. Of this sum, he gave $8,000 to Arunasalam to pass to his girlfriend and family. He then gave the weapon and bag to Arunasalam to dispose of.
Kotta was arrested the next day in Geylang after he was identified by the victim and the co-accused persons.
‘Many aggravating factors’: Judge
The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yonghui, objected to the calling of a probation report and sought for a reformative training report, a more severe form of punishment for offenders between 14 and 21 years old.
Kotta’s lawyer Patrick Fernandez, submitted that the court should have the benefit of all reports to assess a suitable punishment for his client.
He told the court that the probation suitability report for his client - prepared for his previous offences - was placed on hold and that the probation officer might want to interview his client and his family members again.
In response, District Judge May Mesenas said that she would call for both reports.
However, she added, “Your client has an uphill task to convince me why rehabilitation should still be in the fore as opposed to a combination of rehabilitation and deterrence, in light of many aggravating factors which may not be articulated but on the face is patently clear to me.”
Kotta will return to court on 9 February for his sentencing. The cases for Arunasalam, Karrtik and Tusheintar are still pending before the court.
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