A man in his 40s, who allegedly threatened bank employees with a weapon in Daejeon, South Korea, and absconded with 39 million won ($33,000) to Da Nang, Vietnam, has been sentenced to a prison term.

Vietnam Escapee / photo: X

The Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office appealed the case on the 9th, challenging the 5-year sentence handed down in the first trial to Mr. A (48), who was charged with habitual gambling and special robbery. The prosecution strongly emphasized that Mr. A planned and committed the robbery using a weapon to pay off the debts incurred through gambling. Further, even after the crime, his continued gambling and escape overseas led to his arrest, indicating bad circumstances after the crime and thus necessitating a heavier sentence than the one initially handed down.

The day before the prosecution appealed, Mr. A submitted an appeal through his lawyer to the Daejeon District Court. It appears Mr. A’s side will argue unfair sentencing during the appeal trial, which will be conducted at the Daejeon High Court Criminal Agreement Department.

Mr. A allegedly threatened employees with a weapon and stole 39 million won in cash from a credit union in Gwanjeo-dong, Seo-gu, Daejeon, at 11:58 AM on August 18, last year. During his escape, Mr. A switched his mode of transportation multiples times, using walking and taxis to evade police pursuit and create confusion in the investigation. He also utilized roads without closed-circuit (CC) TVs.

The police identified Mr. A’s identity two days after the crime, but by then, he had already fled to Da Nang, Vietnam. The police requested a red notice from the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and cooperated with local security and police officers to investigate.

With a tip-off from a Korean resident in Vietnam, the police conducted an undercover investigation and arrested Mr. A at a casino in Da Nang at 4:55 PM local time on September 10. Upon arrest, Mr. A stated that he committed the crime impulsively to repay business debts and cover living expenses. However, the prosecution, which took over the case, viewed Mr. A as bankrupt from engaging in illegal online gambling habitually for about two and a half years since 2021.

During this period, Mr. A, with no significant income or job, allegedly gambled illegally worth about 4 billion won ($3.4 million) in a total of 4,651 instances. As his money ran out, he borrowed hundreds of millions of won from acquaintances for gambling and committed the crime when pressured by debt collection.

The 11th Criminal Department of the Daejeon District Court (Judge Choi Seok-jin), which deliberated on the case, stated, “The defendant has a bad character, committing a special robbery in a bank after stealing a motorcycle when he couldn’t handle the debt from gambling with a considerable amount of money over a long period,” and sentenced him to five years in prison.