Liquor thief starts fire in bar to 'destroy evidence'

SINGAPORE - A jobless man started a fire under a bar counter after helping himself to $1,300 worth of alcohol from the premises, thinking this would help to destroy any evidence against him.

Instead, Ahmad Sa'ri Ju'mahad's actions caused $30,000worth of damage, and earned him an additional criminal charge of causing mischief by fire.

On Monday, the 54-year-old was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to house trespass, and starting the fire. His suspected accomplice, Muhammed Kamal Abdul Hamid, 43, is still at large.

The court heard that around 2.50am on Sept 24, the duo entered the bar of Azzura Resorts on Sentosa after noticing that its entrance shutters were not fully closed.

After trying and failing to force open the bar's cash register with a hammer, they took a bottle of liquor and consumed it. It was after this that they stole a cap and three bottles of alcohol, valued at $1,300.

Ahmad Sa'ri then used a cloth to wipe the cash register machine to "remove evidence". Around 3.30am, he used a lighter to set fire to a stack of papers he had spotted under the cash register.

Ahmad Sa'ri told the court he was remorseful, adding that he was high on sleeping pills and alcohol at the time.

He could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for committing house trespass to steal. He faced the same maximum punishment for committing mischief by fire.