Recalcitrant shoplifter jailed again, after having spent almost 18 years in jail

SINGAPORE - A recalcitrant shoplifter, who has already spent almost 18 years in jail for similar deeds, was on Wednesday sentenced to 16 months in prison for his latest offences.

M. Mahalingam, 63, who is unemployed, pleaded guilty to stealing a can of beer on two different occasions in March this year from a supermarket.

These two offences were only the latest in a string of more than 20 similar crimes Mahalingam had committed since 1987 - a laundry list that took the prosecution almost five minutes to read out.

"(The) substantial imprisonment terms you have served have not caused you to wake up," Community Court Judge Lim Keng Yeow noted sternly. Mahalingam claimed to be remorseful but Judge Lim said: "To what extent do you think you can be taken seriously given your past offences?"

Mahalingam's lawyer, Mr Amarick Gill, said that all the man wanted was to get a job that could be his "way out of this".

For each count of theft in a building used to keep property, Mahalingam could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.