Man gets 15 months' jail for criminal breach of trust and theft of handbag

SINGAPORE - An interior designer misappropriated $37,650 from his employer in 2013 and jumped bail after he was charged in court in 2015.

After being on the run for over two years, Phua Siew Meng got into trouble again - this time for stealing while he was working as a delivery man.

The 36-year-old was arrested on Aug 3 last year, a day after he stole a woman's handbag while she was cleaning an apartment in Farrer Drive .

On Thursday (Feb 8), Phua was sentenced to 15 months' jail after he admitted to criminal breach of trust and theft.

The court heard that Phua was employed by Gim Wee Renovation Contractor when he misappropriated $37,650 between October and December 2013. To conceal his misdeeds, he would either fail to issue receipts or destroy the company's copy of the receipts.

His boss discovered the offences when he saw discrepancies between the amounts that should have been paid to the company and the actual sums received.

When confronted, Phua initially claimed that the payments had been delayed by the customers. But this proved to be false after his boss checked with the customers.

Phua had spent the money on personal expenses and gambling with Singapore Pools. He has made restitution of $1,650.

In the case of theft, the court heard that on Aug 2 last year, Phua delivered a parcel to an apartment at Sommerville Park. Ms Radha Rengasamy, 55, who runs a cleaning company, was cleaning the apartment at the time.

Phua saw Ms Radha's handbag on top of the washing machine and stole it. He drove to Punggol Central where he removed $530 and a mobile phone from the handbag. He threw the handbag and the phone's SIM card into the central rubbish bin.

He spent the cash on his personal expenses and repayment of a debt. Only the mobile phone was recovered from him upon his arrest the next day.

Phua, whose sentence was backdated to Aug 12, could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined for criminal breach of trust. For theft, the maximum punishment is seven years and a fine.