A Canadian man was handed down a five-year jail term as part of his sentence after he pleaded guilty to robbery and money laundering in the State Courts on Wednesday (7 July).
31-year-old David James Roach had robbed the Holland Village branch of Standard Chartered Bank five years ago on 7 July 2016.
While Roach was also sentenced to six strokes of the cane for robbery, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in a joint statement on Wednesday said that the caning will not be carried out due to the need to secure Roach’s extradition from the United Kingdom to Singapore earlier.
“As part of the extradition proceedings, the Singapore Government undertook to the UK Government that any sentence of corporal punishment imposed by a Singapore Court on Roach for the offences for which he was extradited would not be carried out.”
“This is because the UK’s extradition laws would prohibit the extradition of Roach to Singapore in the absence of such an assurance,” said MHA and AGC.
However, both authorities stressed that the undertaking is not an indication that Singapore has altered its stance on corporal punishment.
The assurance, they said, “does not affect Singapore’s long-held view that such punishment does not constitute torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or contravene international law”.
“The assurance was given solely to secure Roach’s extradition to Singapore to face justice for his crimes. The Singapore Government will do whatever is necessary and permissible within our legal framework to seek justice against those who commit crimes in Singapore,” said MHA and AGC.
Roach had absconded to Thailand on the day he committed robbery before his identity could be ascertained.
He was arrested by the Thai authorities in July 2016 and subsequently sentenced to 14 months of jail for money laundering and other offences in Thailand.
Roach was deported from Thailand on 11 January 2018.
The Thai government had earlier turned down Singapore’s bid to extradite Roach in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries.
Before Roach was extradited to Singapore and placed in police custody on 16 March last year, the Singapore authorities had asked the UK authorities for help in arresting him as he had fled to London, hoping to transit to Canada from there.
This was after Singapore had exhausted all legal channels for appeal in the UK against Roach’s extradition.
Roach arrived in London on the same date he was deported from Thailand.
On 17 March last year, he was charged in the State Courts for robbery and money laundering.
During submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Marcus Foo had asked Deputy Principal District Judge Luke Tan to give Roach a six-year jail sentence and nine strokes of the cane.
Roach’s lawyer, Anand Nalachandran, however sought a lighter sentence, as his client did not commit armed robbery.
Roach had reportedly placed before the bank teller a bag, with a handwritten note stating that “This is a robbery” and that he had “a gun in my bag”.
The cashier, who was pregnant, was compelled to follow Roach’s instructions as per the note.
The maximum punishment under Singapore law for robbery is a 10-year jail sentence. Those found guilty of robbery may also be subject to a minimum of six strokes of the cane.