FOUR men who staged a fake police raid to steal more than $1 million from a Little India lodging house were convicted of gang robbery yesterday.
Two of them, music teacher Magesan Ramasamy, 36, and Mohamed Faizal Ajmalhan, 32, who works in finance, were also found guilty of posing as police officers.
They forced their way into the rooms of three businessmen, who were Indian nationals, in Dunlop Street on Sept 10, 2012.
After demanding their passports, the fake cops restrained the victims and their guests with flexi-cuffs and ordered them to sit or kneel, before taking about $1.27 million from them.
Construction workers Arunachalam Lakshmanan, 37, and Chinnaya Antony Samy, 38, kept a lookout in the street.
The two men had provided the rest of the gang with information about the victims, who they believed were involved in illegal money remittance.
A fifth member of the group, taxi driver and police reservist Mohammad Ansari Abdul Hussain, provided the police uniforms and also posed as a cop.
He had pleaded guilty to gang robbery and impersonating a public servant in 2013 and was sentenced to eight years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
Speaking after a 23-day trial, District Judge Low Wee Ping said: "This started as a ruse, but developed into a robbery.
"From the point of the victims, they were frightened, they were restrained, they had the fear of hurt being caused."
Magesan and Faizal's lawyers had argued that their clients did not commit robbery, but the lesser crime of cheating by impersonation, as the victims had allowed them to take their money because they thought they were policemen.
Meanwhile, the defence for Arunachalam and Chinnaya had maintained that the two had not even been physically present at the time of the robbery, and they had provided Magesan and Ansari with information about the victims because they believed the men were real police officers.
The four men had initially faced a range of other charges over earlier robberies and attempted robberies of money changers in Beach Road, Cecil Street and an underpass at Ang Mo Kio MRT station. These charges were taken into consideration or withdrawn.
Gang robbery is punishable with a prison term of five to 20 years and at least 12 strokes of the cane.
The penalty for impersonating a police officer is a jail term of up to two years, a fine, or both.
The four men will be sentenced on June 16.
This article was first published on June 6, 2015.
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