A domestic helper who turned to armed robbery to repay friends who had loaned her money to help her sick mother in Indonesia was jailed for 3.5 years yesterday. Marlina Sailan, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one of attempted robbery. Sailan admitted that on April 16 and May 7 this year, she robbed two women as they withdrew money from a Standard Chartered Bank automated teller machine in Wan Chai. She also tried to rob another woman at the same bank on May 21, but was arrested as she struggled with the victim. Prosecutor Daniel Ozorio told the Court of First Instance Sailan was armed with a 20cm fruit knife when the robberies took place. She robbed her first victim of $10,000 and the second of $1,000. Barrister Mahinder Panesar, for Sailan, said her client would not have committed the offences had she not been desperate for money for medical treatment for her mother, who had been diagnosed with a kidney tumour. Sailan felt obliged to pay her mother's medical expenses when she found out about the disease in April last year. But when she was on the way to send $10,000 of her own money to her mother, the cash was 'somehow' stolen and lost, said Ms Panesar. The accused then borrowed money from friends, which she sent to her mother and turned to robbery this April when her friends pressed her for repayment, the court heard. Sailan repaid her friends with the money she stole, her barrister said. Sailan's employer wrote to the court saying she had always been 'an honest worker'. Mr Justice Thomas Gall said Sailan had carefully planned and executed the robberies and that they warranted an immediate custodial sentence. 'On each occasion you armed yourself in advance with a weapon. You went to a place where you knew you would find someone with money,' Mr Justice Gall said. 'You carefully chose women; presumably they are smaller than men and you would have a better chance of subduing them. Your personal circumstances cannot justify the type of offence you committed.'