Singapore sentences Canadian man to 5 years behind bars for 2016 bank robbery

David James Roach is escorted by Singapore police officers through Singapore Changi Airport after being extradited from Britain on March 17, 2020 on charges that he robbed a bank in Singapore in 2016. Singapore Police Force

A court in Singapore on Wednesday sentenced a Canadian man to five years in jail for robbing a bank in 2016, but he will not receive an additional sentence of six strokes of a cane due to the terms of his extradition, the government said.

Singapore has very low crime rates and the bank robbery had sparked debate about whether the wealthy Southeast Asian city state had become too complacent about security.

David James Roach, now 31, fled Singapore on the same day as the robbery, but was later detained in Britain where authorities agreed to extradite him in March last year on the condition that he would not receive corporal punishment.

“This assurance…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 government said in a statement.

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Roach stole S$30,450 (US$22,482.28) from a branch of the Standard Chartered bank in July 2016, but immediately took a flight to Thailand before his identity could be established, according to Singapore authorities.

He was detained in Thailand but subsequently deported to Canada before being held by British police after arriving in London in January 2018, at the request of Singapore.

Singapore, a former British colony, has an extradition treaty with the United Kingdom, but not with Thailand.

Roach, who had handed a bank teller a piece of paper saying he was carrying out a robbery and claiming he had a gun, pleaded guilty in court.

Singapore has very low levels of crime, applying tough punishments for many crimes, ranging from death for drug trafficking and murder to prison and caning for lesser crimes.

While Singapore authorities credit the tough stance for deterring criminals, rights groups have called for the city state to abolish capital and corporal punishments.

(Reporting by Chen Lin in Singapore Editing by Ed Davies & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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