SINGAPORE: A recalcitrant thief who has been in and out of court for stealing items since 1986 was sentenced to two weeks’ jail on Wednesday (May 6) for stealing trousers, watches and a mobile phone from two cleaners at a rubbish collection point.
The items belonged to two Bangladeshi cleaners who were asleep inside the garbage centre at Block 4, Teck Whye Avenue.
Othman Kamis, 50, sobbed throughout the court hearing, and told District Judge Jasvender Kaur that he had “lost everything” including his family and flat and was sleeping in a cemetery.
He said he had stolen the trousers as he had no clothes and was “smelly”, and claimed he did not know that they contained the watches and mobile phone.
The court heard that Othman was jobless and loitering near the rubbish collection point at about noon on Oct 16 last year.
He walked into the area and saw the two victims – cleaners Mamun Al and Mandal Nitai – napping inside, said State Prosecuting Officer Lam Peng Choy.
He took the phone from one of the cleaners, along with two pairs of trousers that were hung up inside the rubbish point and four watches that were inside the trousers.
The cleaners woke up at about 12.30pm and realised that their items were missing. They called the number of the missing phone and Othman answered the call.
They traced Othman to his location at a bench nearby, at Block 166, Teck Whye Crescent.
When they found their belongings with Othman, the victims asked for their items back, but Othman lied and said he had bought them from a passer-by.
He asked them for S$50 in return for the items, and the victims refused. When Othman ignored them, the victims called the police.
Before they arrived and arrested Othman for theft, Othman handed the stolen mobile phone to another man, whose identity could not be established.
The phone was never recovered, but the other items were returned to the victims.
Othman pleaded guilty to two charges of theft, with a third of absconding from court taken into consideration.
The prosecutor asked for three weeks’ jail, listing Othman’s string of previous offences, starting with theft in 1986. His latest sentence was in 2019, for stealing two cans of beer.
Othman, who was unrepresented, apologised to the judge.
I’VE LOST EVERYTHING: OTHMAN
“I committed the offences because I have a reason,” he said. “I lost my five children, my wife. I have three daughters and two sons.”
He said his parents have both died and said he has not touched any drugs since 2014. He claimed that his flat had been repossessed and that he was “under tremendous stress”, saying that he slept in a cemetery and did not have a single cent on him.
He told the court he did not mean to steal the mobile phone.
“My clothing, my trousers, my shirt, my top, all were very smelly, my friends told me I smell very badly,” said Othman. “When I went into the rubbish collection centre I saw these trousers … I really did not know there were watches … all the watches are spoilt, your honour.”
He said he admitted his mistakes, adding that he did not intend to skip court but that he was in “much pain”.
The judge backdated his sentence to Apr 20, when he was placed in remand, meaning he will walk free on Wednesday.
She repeated advice to Othman to follow up with a psychiatrist and to go to a family service centre for his accommodation and financial difficulties.
For each count of theft, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, or both.
Published at Wed, 06 May 2020 08:30:37 +0000