High Court upholds decision to jail, fine youth in Low Yat smartphone theft case

Shanti Gunaratnam

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today upheld the conviction and sentence of jobless youth Shahrul Anuar Abdul Azizi, whose smartphone theft purportedly triggered a riot at Low Yat Plaza in 2015.

Judical Commissioner Datuk Ab Karim Ab Rahman, in dismissing Shahrul's appeal, told him that the magistrate's court did not err in finding him guilty of the theft.

However, he said the Shahrul should have been charged under Section 379 of the Penal Code which is for theft, instead of Section 380, for theft in a building.

"You took the phone from the first prosecution witness' hand, ran off and was apprehended latter. The incident happened at a kiosk and not inside the building and, therefore your charge should have been under Section 379 of the Penal Code.

"However, a theft is still a theft, be it under Section 379 or Section 380. The only difference is that under Section 380 of the Penal Code, the sentence is more deterrent," said Ab Karim.

Shahrul, 24, was sentenced to four months' jail and fined RM1,000 in default one month's jail by the magistrate's court, after he was convicted of stealing a black coloured Lenovo S860, priced then at RM800, from a smartphone kiosk at the mall in Bukit Bintang around 4.47pm on July 11, 2015.

He was charged under Section 380 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to 10 years and whipping, upon conviction.

The theft happened prior to a riot outside the mall, that led to multiple arrests.

Ab Karim also dismissed the prosecution's appeal to increase Shahrul's sentence.

Counsel Shaharudin Ali who appeared with Khairul Azam, told the court that his client's parents were both dumb and deaf, who had problems showing their love.

"My client comes from a poverty stricken background. To make matters worse, he was robbed on the very small morning of the day the theft had occurred."

Deputy public prosecutor Siti Aisyah Ahmad in seeking a deterrent sentence told the court that theft is a rampant crime that happens everyday and that Shahrul was let off easily with only a four month sentence.

"Stealing might seen like a small offence but we must send a message to the public that it is wrong to take something that is not ours."

Ab Karim also allowed Shaharudin's application for a stay-of-execution on the jail sentence, pending appeal to the Court of Appeal.