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SINGAPORE, Jan 21 — A 19-year-old man has admitted to committing an armed robbery at a Jurong moneylender last November, when he threatened the sole female shop assistant with a knife and locked her up as he and two accomplices fled with S$48,000 (RM146,316).
Kotta Kumar Jeswanth, a Singaporean, carried out the robbery just one month after pleading guilty to other unrelated criminal offences, including fighting in public, for which he was undergoing assessment for probation at the time of the robbery.
Before the robbery, he cut off an electronic monitoring tag secured to him in relation to those offences.
Kotta pleaded guilty yesterday to one count each of theft and armed robbery causing hurt.
He also admitted to one charge of mischief for cutting off the electronic tag.
One count of theft of motorcycle helmets committed earlier on the day of the robbery at a multi-storey car park in Jurong West was considered during sentencing.
Kotta was the first of four men linked to the November 19 robbery of OT Credit at Block 135 Jurong Gateway to be dealt with in court.
Two other men currently in remand — Karrtik Stalniraj, 22, and Tusheintar Segaran, 21 — are accused of committing the robbery with him.
A fourth man, 27-year-old Arunasalam Kannan, had allegedly been tasked with disposing of a curved Karambit knife used in the robbery.
Fled on foot to cemetery
The court heard that Kotta, Karrtik and Tusheintar had planned to target the shop because it had only two female shop assistants working there.
While recceing the shop in the afternoon on November 19 last year, they noticed that only one assistant was on duty. The three men struck at around 4pm.
Kotta pulled the hair of the shop assistant, with the Karambit knife in his other hand, and demanded that she throw cash into a grey haversack he was wearing in front of his body.
Kotta instructed the shop assistant, Candy Yang Siqi, not to shout for help. She complied out of fear for her safety.
Meanwhile, Karrtik searched the shop for more money while Tusheintar acted as a lookout.
Kotta then locked Yang in a back office and the trio fled on foot with S$48,000.
They headed towards a cemetery at Lim Chu Kang to meet Arunasalam and split the loot.
Kotta received S$14,000. He handed S$8,000 of it to Arunasalam, who would help pass it to Kotta’s family and girlfriend.
He also passed the knife and the backpack to Arunasalam to dispose of the evidence.
After reviewing surveillance footage, the police traced and arrested Kotta at around 1.40am the next day in Geylang.
The police said then that they had recovered about S$30,000 of the stolen proceeds and were trying to retrieve the rest. Court documents did not state whether the remaining S$18,000 has been recovered.
To be assessed for probation, reformative training
On October 19 last year, before committing the robbery, Kotta had pleaded guilty to three charges: One of slapping a person in 2019, one of drinking outside with a group of friends during the circuit breaker period and one of fighting in a public place.
A district judge had called for a report to assess whether Kotta was suitable for probation for those offences and postponed sentencing until November 30.
On Wednesday, despite an objection from the Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yonghui, District Judge May Mesenas called for Kotta to be assessed for probation for the present set of offences related to the armed robbery.
The judge also called for a reformative training suitability report for Kotta to assess if he is suitable to be detained in the centre, where youths aged 14 to 21 are subject to a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.
Kotta remains in remand and will return to court on Feb 9 for sentencing. — TODAY