Three Egyptian nationals who came to Singapore to commit theft were each jailed four months by the State Courts on Wednesday (28 March).
Mohamed Abdellatif Mohamed Abdalla, 54, Soliman Mohamed Soliman Elfeki, 60, and Mamdouh Ali Mohamed Abdou, 55, each pleaded guilty to one count of theft with common intention and one count of fraudulent possession of property.
The trio had initially planned to contest the charges but decided to plead guilty on the first day of the trial.
The court heard that the three men arrived in Singapore on 7 February this year and planned to commit theft by stealing valuables from shoppers at City Square Mall.
On 14 February, Soliman took a handbag that had been left unattended by an Australian tourist at the mall. Abdellatif followed behind Soliman while carrying another bag to conceal the stolen item, while Mamdouh acted as a lookout.
The handbag contained cash, two mobile phones and a watch – the total value of which came up to $3,062.39.
Having spotted a good Samaritan informing the victim that her handbag had been taken by Soliman, Mamdouh then left the mall and met the other two men again at the Royal Indian Hotel where the trio had been staying.
Police located the three men on 14 February and arrested them at a restaurant near the hotel.
At their hotel room, police seized a number of items suspected to be stolen property, including handbags, wallets and mobile phones. The items had a total value of S$1,490.98.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chin Jincheng sought a jail term of four months’ each for the men, saying that there was premeditation involved in the theft, and that the crime was committed in a methodical way. No restitution was made, and the stolen items were not recovered, he added.
Speaking through an interpreter, the three men apologised to the court and to the country for what they had done. They also asked for mercy, saying that they had children back home to support.
Abdellatif also said that he is diabetic and had difficulty communicating his dietary needs to the prison officers because he could not speak English.
District Judge Kenneth Yap agreed with the prosecution on the need to send a clear and deterrent signal against foreigners who came to Singapore to commit theft.
He sentenced the men to four months’ jail each and backdated their jail terms to when they were first remanded on 15 February.
After the sentencing was passed down, the trio requested to be placed in the same cell due to the language barrier they faced in prison. The judge then told the interpreter to submit a written request to the prison authorities on their behalf, but added that the request would be subject to the prison authorities’ discretion.
The maximum punishment for theft is a jail term of up to three years, a fine or both.
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