Armed robbery suspect who absconded during court break arrested
The robber who disappeared from court earlier this week has been found. He was arrested and hauled back to the courtroom yesterday.
Visvanathan Vadivelu, 50, was about to be sentenced for armed robbery and drug offences on Tuesday when he told the court he wanted to retract his plea.
He said he had agreed to plead guilty only because he misunderstood what his lawyer had told him.
The judge called for a short break so the lawyer, who had already been discharged, could be called to the courtroom.
That was when Visvanathan walked out of court.
In a release yesterday, the police explained the courts have the discretion to offer bail for armed robbery.
"Hence, when the proceedings adjourned for a court break, the man was able to leave the court room unescorted, because he was still on court bail," the police said in the release.
"He was not required to be, nor could he be taken into police custody during the break."
Visvanathan was on court bail of $70,000 at the time.
When the lawyer arrived about 15 minutes later, Visvanathan had disappeared.
The judge then issued a warrant for his arrest.
Visvanathan appeared in court yesterday after being arrested on Wednesday evening for breaking conditions of bail.
He was not offered bail this time.
He had previously admitted to robbing a Shell petrol station in Upper Bukit Timah Road in July 2017.
He waited till the petrol kiosk was empty before approaching the cashier, pointing a knife at her and fleeing with about $1,100 in cash.
Visvanathan also admitted to consuming drugs since June 2017.
He is expected to be back in court for sentencing next Thursday for one count of armed robbery, two counts of drug consumption and one count of drug possession.
Those convicted of armed robbery can be jailed for up to 10 years and given at least 12 strokes of the cane. Those over 50 years old cannot be caned.