Youth who tried to break into jewellery shops using blowtorch jailed for 3½ years

Three teenagers attempted to break into a Little India jewellery store by using an oxy-acetylene blowtorch on March 11, 2018.
Three teenagers attempted to break into a Little India jewellery store by using an oxy-acetylene blowtorch on March 11, 2018.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS READER

SINGAPORE- A recalcitrant offender, who had absconded from reformative training for theft, tried to break into two jewellery stores with a blowtorch while on the run.

Saatish Gautham, 20, was sentenced on Wednesday (July 3) to 3½ years' jail after pleading guilty on June 19 to two counts of attempted housebreaking and an unrelated rioting charge.

In handing down the sentence, District Judge Eddy Tham told him: "There is still a long road ahead of you... The choice is yours who you want to mix around with... You can choose your future."

The court heard that in 2013 and 2014, Saatish was placed on probation for offences including being a member of an unlawful assembly and causing mischief by fire.

He reoffended while on probation and was sentenced to reformative training in 2015. He was sent to a reformative training centre (RTC) to follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling, but absconded from his day-release scheme last year.

While on the run, Saatish and two accomplices - Mohammad Faris Mohammad Fadzir, 17, and Jamal Razeen Abdul Ghani, 19 - took a private-hire car to Little India at around 2am on March 11 last year.

Jamal and Faris acted as lookouts while Saatish used a blowtorch to cut the hinges of the rear door of Merlin Goldsmith and Jewellery in Serangoon Road. They left the scene after Faris spotted a man observing Saatish.

They returned to Little India later that morning and Saatish used the blowtorch to dismantle the roller shutters of Jewel Palace in Buffalo Road.

But the shop's anti-theft alarm went off and the group fled empty-handed. The store owner's wife alerted the police that morning.

 

Last month, Saatish, who was unrepresented by a lawyer, pleaded for another stint in the RTC and claimed that he did not undergo rehabilitation when he was last sent there.

But on Wednesday, the officer in charge of the reformative trainees' housing unit, Deputy Superintendent 2 (DSP2) Lim Zhaolun, told the court that Saatish had, in fact, attended several rehabilitation programmes, including one to prepare him for employment.

DSP2 Lim added that during incarceration, Saatish had assaulted another inmate and threatened staff.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Dwayne Lum told Judge Tham that Saatish had a "frightening propensity for violence".

Urging the court to sentence him to 3½ years' jail, the DPP said "rehabilitation can no longer be the dominant sentencing consideration", adding that Saatish's conduct in the RTC was "appalling".

For each count of attempted housebreaking, Saatish could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined. Faris and Jamal were both sentenced to reformative training last year.