Getaway driver of brazen robbery jailed: 5 men took $24,000 from Woodlands money changer in broad daylight

Ronald Loh
The New Paper
Sep 8, 2016

It was a brazen robbery in broad daylight.

At about 2.40pm on May 31, 2010, a group of five men targeted a money changer at a main road just in front of a mall.

After pushing him into the backseat of a car, they assaulted him, took his cash worth $24,000 and pushed him out.

One of them was eventually caught, but the other four remain at large.

Yesterday, Elanggovan Gopalan, 34, a Malaysian who was working as a crane operator here, was jailed 30 months and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane for his role in the robbery.

Read also: Police on islandwide hunt for suspected robber who made away with $20,000 from Standard Chartered bank at Holland Village

Court papers said Elanggovan (photo) had met his friend, Vijayathevan Kanniy, now 33, whom he had known from school in Malaysia, that morning.

Vijayathevan told Elanggovan about a "job", which Elanggovan understood to mean a robbery, and asked for his help in driving a car to carry out the crime. Elanggovan agreed and was handed the key to a Malaysian-registered Proton Wira.

A while later, Elanggovan was told to drive to Marsiling MRT where he picked up Vijayathevan and three other men.

He then drove to Woodlands Civic Centre and stopped the car on Woodlands Square, the main road just in front of the building.

Vijayathevan and the three men alighted from the car and lay in wait for their target, Mr Chang Lai Huat, a Malaysian who was working as a money changer.

At 2.40pm, Mr Chang was about to enter Woodlands Civic Centre when he was stopped by three members of the group.

One of them grabbed his neck while the other two held his hands, before they dragged him into the backseat of the car.

Elanggovan covered the car's licence plate with a plastic sheet, got into the driver's seat and drove off.

After the car started moving, one of the accomplices punched Mr Chang's face several times while another covered his head with a dark shirt and pushed his head down.

The robbers in the backseat then searched Mr Chang for valuables, which included $24,000 cash and two mobile phones worth $500.

A few minutes later, Elanggovan stopped the car and Mr Chang was pushed out.


Elanggovan was arrested on Aug 3 last year, while Vijayathevan and the rest are still at large.

Yesterday, defence counsel N. Kanagavijayan said in mitigation that his client was initially reluctant to take part in the robbery and agreed only after Vijayathevan allegedly assured him he was only to drive the car.

Read also: Female SGH employee wounded with knife during robbery at Kim Tian Green in Bukit Merah

Mr Kanagavijayan also said Elanggovan did not know there would be three other men involved and deeply regrets being a part of it.

For committing robbery, Elanggovan could have been jailed up to 10 years with caning.

The New Paper understands Mr Chang has since died of natural causes unrelated to the robbery.

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