Western Union armed robber was caught after a three-day long search operation last year. On Wednesday, he was sentenced to jail for almost five years.
The accused, Hashim Hamzah was previously convicted of drug-related offences. In 2017, August he pointed a 15 cm hacksaw blade at an employee of a Western Union branch in Ubi and escaped with $650 in cash.
Reports stated that the local police spent more than 1000 hours on closed-circuit television footages to track the culprit and finally caught the 58-year-old Hamzah on Aug 3 at Pasir Ris Drive 6.
During the court hearing, Hamzah pleaded guilty to one of armed robbery and another of possessing a controlled drug. The court heard that in 2014, after releasing from the prison, he was suffering to make ends meet. Even though he worked as a forklift operator, cleaner and sold discarded items, later he realised that such jobs were not enough to make money to settle his debt.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Rimplejit Kaur told the court that on August 1, 2017, he armed himself with the blade, wore a white helmet, black jacket, long dark-coloured trouser and put a green mask on his face before entering Western Union branch. Police were alerted to the incident when the threatened employee informed the landlord of the branch, who manages a flower shop next to the bank.
After looting the money remittance outlet, Hamzah went to a licensed moneylender to repay his $400 debt. He spent $200 on food, cigarettes, drinks, 4-D lottery tickets and heroin. Within three days police tracked him down.
The prosecutor told the court that Hamzah, who is also a Singapore resident had displayed a "brazen disregard" for the law by committing the offence and made a speedy relapse to crime.
However, Melvin Loh, who was representing the accused said that his client was suffering from a financial issue, as he could not find any job. He said that Hamzah tried to commit suicide by using a hacksaw blade but after realizing his responsibility towards his family he dropped the plan.
Earlier, he served a jail sentence for a total of four years and nine months and the sentence was backdated to August 5, 2017.
As per the law, usually, the sentence for robbery is two to ten years' of imprisonment and a minimum of six strokes of the cane. In a case of armed robbery, an offender can expect at least twelve more strokes of the cane in addition to any other penalties he or she is liable for.