Passenger jailed for stealing money from Australian on plane

SINGAPORE - A Chinese national was jailed for nine months on Friday for stealing about $430 from an Australian on board an aircraft.

Zhang Rui, 39, a driver, pleaded guilty to stealing Hong Kong and Macau money totalling $429 from Australian helicopter pilot Marcus Philip Hildebrand, 40, on a Tiger Airways flight from Macau, China, to Singapore on May 8.

The court heard that a flight attendant was pushing a duty-free products cart on the plane when she found Zhang blocking the aisle. He was holding on to a black luggage bag with an Emirates tag on it. He then zipped it up and placed it back in the overhead compartment. He appeared to be flustered as he was doing so.

The flight stewardess felt suspicious and informed her colleague.

After the plane had landed at Changi Airport, the stewardess kept a lookout to see who was carrying the black luggage bag. When she saw Mr Hildebrand puling the luggage, she immediately alerted her colleague to stop the victim.

The victim was asked to check if anything was missing from his bag. He found all the notes in his wallet gone.

When told that Zhang had been seen meddling with his luggage earlier, the victim caught hold of the Henan native and asked him to return his money. Zhang took out the Hong Kong and Macau currencies totalling $429 and apologised to the victim.

Police were called and Zhang was arrested.

Zhang said he committed the offence out of greed.

He could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined for theft.