Australian national Jose Manuel Pacheco (pictured) has been charged over an alleged armed robbery in Singapore

EXCLUSIVE 

An Australian restauranteur faces brutal corporal punishment in Singapore after he was identified by cops as the lead suspect in an armed robbery because he was ‘fatter than the average person’. 

Jose Manuel Pacheco, 39, may be lashed 12 times with a 1.2m rattan cane after he allegedly threatened a 31-year-old female clerk with a knife at money lender Accredit Private Limited in the Tampines district of Singapore on June 4. 

Singaporean police allege Pacheco, from Perth, was wearing a disguise – a mask and cap – when he confronted the worker at about 1.40pm and demanded she put S$6,095 (AU$6,810) in a bag. 

The female clerk remained calm and took careful note of the alleged robber’s appearance and clothing so she could pass on the information to police.

Using the victim’s description, police arrested Pacheco half an hour later as he allegedly lurked near the crime scene, watching the investigators without his disguise.

He was confronted by an officer and allegedly confessed to armed robbery.

Australian national Jose Manuel Pacheco (pictured) has been charged over an alleged armed robbery in Singapore

Australian national Jose Manuel Pacheco (pictured) has been charged over an alleged armed robbery in Singapore

If convicted, he could face 12 lashings. Pictured is a prison officer at Changi Prison in Singapore demonstrating a caning on a mannequin

If convicted, he could face 12 lashings. Pictured is a prison officer at Changi Prison in Singapore demonstrating a caning on a mannequin

The officers approached Pacheco, who police will allege seemed at a loss to know how to answer their questions before eventually admitting to the armed robbery. 

Singaporean police will allege the Aussie chef believed he could fly under the radar watching the investigation unfold after removing his mask and cap.

Yimeng, a manager of a nearby store, told local media police came in to ask for CCTV before officers began canvassing the area for the alleged perpetrator.

He said officers arrested Pacheco after spotting him sitting in a staircase next to his store.

‘The man they saw was sitting at the staircase, facing the crime scene, looking like he was watching the police handle the case,’ he told Zaobao.

‘He spoke to the police in Malay. He was fatter than the average person, had long hair and a beard.

‘Although he had taken off his mask and hat, he still couldn’t escape the investigators who were observing his surroundings carefully.’

Police were able to seize the knife allegedly used in the robbery and recover all the cash.

Singaporean police will allege he stole from the Accredit Money Lender (pictured) in the Tampines district

Singaporean police will allege he stole from the Accredit Money Lender (pictured) in the Tampines district 

Singapore has low crime rates due to its severe penalties for criminal activities, which has seen the Asian nation consistently rank as one of the safest countries in the world.

In Singapore, individuals can be sentenced to caning for more than 30 offences, including kidnapping, robbery, sexual abuse, drug abuse, rioting, vandalism, extortion and unlawful possession of weapons.

Caning is mandatory for certain offences, such as rape, drug trafficking and illegal money lending, and for foreigners who overstay their visas by more than 90 days. 

The punishment, which is only given to men, is delivered in jail by a trained prison guard while the offender is naked, bent over and restrained in a wooden frame – resulting in bloody cuts to the buttocks.

If convicted, Pacheco, who has been charged with one count of armed robbery, faces between three and 14 years in jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane. 

Pacheco, originally from Perth, has been living and working in Singapore in recent years 

Daily Mail Australia can reveal Pacheco is a restaurant manager originally from Perth, who had been living and working in Singapore in recent years.

According to his LinkedIn account, the West Australian has worked in hospitality since he was 14 and was most recently employed as the Head of Tapas Club, a premium Spanish restaurant chain. 

He was also previously employed as the head of Singapore’s Yole Cafe, as well as a general manager at Heart of Darkness Brewery in Vietnam.

‘My work and personal life revolves on what positive impact I can make on somebody that will create a lasting memory and leave a legacy,’ Pacheco wrote in his bio on his since-deactivated LinkedIn page.

‘This translates well into my professional life as a main focus of mine is to create personal connection between the business I represent and the clients we are taking care of.’

The items Pacheco allegedly used are pictured

 The items Pacheco allegedly used are pictured 

Pacheco allegedly stole S$6,095 (AU$6,810) (pictured), according to Singapore police

Pacheco allegedly stole S$6,095 (AU$6,810) (pictured), according to Singapore police 

Just eight months ago, Tapas Club Singapore shared a gushing post about Pacheco, featuring a photo of him serving up a plate for a customer at the buffet.

‘When our very own Head of Tapas Club, Jose, steps out to serve you, you know it’s a special day!’ the business wrote on Facebook.  

Daily Mail Australia has contacted dplus1, the parent company of Tapas Club, for comment.

Pacheco faced court last week via video link, where a police prosecutor asked District Judge Lim Tse Haw for a four-week adjournment to give police time to complete their investigation, the Straits Times reported.

The prosecutor applied for Pacheco to be granted bail of S$20,000 (AU$22,340), which was granted.

While on bail, Pacheco must stay contactable by the police and must surrender his passport.

His family declined to comment.

Singapore police will allege Pacheco was arrested after officers noticed him lurking near the crime scene

Singapore police will allege Pacheco was arrested after officers noticed him lurking near the crime scene

HOW IS CANING USED IN SINGAPORE?

Singapore is considered one of the safest countries in the world due to its low crime rates – attributed to the Asian nation’s strict penalties for offences. 

In Singapore, caning is a widely used form of corporal punishment, which was introduced in the 19th century while the country was under British colonial rule. The practice is also common in other Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Caning is mandatory in Singapore for certain serious offences – including rape, drug trafficking and illegal moneylenders – and for foreigner offenders.

The punishment involves prisoners being lashed with a thin, 1.2m long rattan stick, at extreme speed – which causes excruciating pain and injuries.

Caning, which is always ordered in addition to a jail sentence and not as a stand-alone punishment, is governed by procedural codes that outline who and when it may be ordered. 

For example, the punishment is typically reserved for healthy men aged between 18 and 50; however, boys under 18 can be caned with fewer strokes and a smaller cane. Women and men sentenced to death whose sentences have been commuted cannot be sentenced to caning. An offender can also only receive up to 24 strokes at a single trial, but may be sentenced to more if the sentences are given out at separate trials. 

Caning typically takes place at prisons by specially trained prison officers in an enclosed area out of the view of the public and other inmates, with the cane soaked in water overnight to avoid it from splitting or embedding into the offender’s wounds.

Prisoners are not told in advance when they will be caned, but instead learn on the day when the punishment is to take place.

After being summoned, the offender is ordered to strip completely naked, he is bent over at a 90 degree angle to expose his buttocks, then his hands and ankles are restrained in a wooden frame. All the strokes are delivered in a single session at intervals of about 30 seconds.

Afterwards, the offender is released from the wooden frame, given painkillers and has antiseptic lotion applied to his wounds.

The punishment is controversial, with Amnesty International slamming caning as cruel and inhumane; however, advocates of the judicial punishment claim it is a strong deterrent against crime. 

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