Recalcitrant offender gets 52 months' jail, fined $3,500 and banned from driving for 3 years

SINGAPORE - A man with a long record of criminal convictions committed a series of offences shortly after being released from prison, earning him another lengthy jail term.

Ahzaha Sulong, 37, was sent back to prison for 52 months, fined $3,500 and banned from driving for three years on Friday (Nov 10).

Eight of the offences were committed while on court bail stemming from property-related charges he was facing.

Ahzaha absconded on April 22, 2016, and was arrested after eight months on the run.

He had been jailed six times for traffic-related offences, criminal breach of trust and drug possession since 1995. In 2004, he was sentenced to five years' corrective training for taking a vehicle without the owner's permission, driving without a licence or insurance coverage, criminal breach of trust and failing to report for urine tests.

In the latest case, he admitted to 11 of 27 charges, including cheating, criminal breach of trust and theft. He also admitted failing to pay a taxi fare of $28.

On Oct 1, 2015, Ahzaha was an assistant manager of Eatzi Gourmet Restaurant in Ang Mo Kio when he misappropriated $2,143 from the safe. He also took a customer's DBS Bank credit card left behind the night before and used it to buy an iPad mini for $688. He sold the iPad for cash.

On Nov 24 that year, he accompanied his girlfriend to Elitez Car Rental, where she rented a car and they drove off.

A staff member thought Ahzaha looked like someone who had been blacklisted by other car rental companies for owing money.

He tracked the car and saw Ahzaha behind the wheel, driving in West Coast Road.

The rental car employee stopped the vehicle and called the police.

Ahzaha presented a document to officers purportedly issued by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority bearing the name of Norhisham Hassan.

Investigations showed that he had forged the document and that Norhisham was his friend. Ahzaha was also driving without a licence or insurance coverage, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lim Kah Hwee.

One of the offences occurred when Ahzaha was employed as a part-time cleaner with Food Republic at Suntec City.

On Jan 1, 2016, he stole $500 from a colleague's wallet. He returned the money after he was confronted with closed-circuit television footage that showed him opening the locker, where the wallet was kept.

The following month, he was working as a supervisor at a bar, The Drunken Poet, at Orchard Towers when he misappropriated $5,065 from the safe and cash register.

Ahzaha also misappropriated an acquaintance's phone worth $700 after using it to call someone at Bukit Batok Civil Service Club on April 22, 2016. He claimed that his mobile phone was "flat".

The next day, he was at a party at a friend's home and used this friend's $1,000 phone, pretending to make a call. He left and later sold the phone for $400.

DPP Lim asked for a jail term of at least 52 months, noting that Ahzaha was clearly a persistent offender and there was a need for specific deterrence in sentencing.

He cited the large number of offences committed against several victims over more than eight months and pointed out that the accused had committed eight distinct offences after jumping bail.