15 months' jail for ex-interior designer who stole more than S$37,000

15 months' jail for ex-interior designer who stole more than S$37,000

Channel NewsAsia·2018-02-08 18:05

SINGAPORE: A 36-year-old former interior designer went on the run for two years after getting charged with stealing more than S$37,000 from customers' payments in April 2015. 

But the law caught up with him when he committed another crime while he was at large - stealing a woman’s handbag from a flat in August 2017.  On Thursday (Feb 8), Phua Siew Meng was sentenced to 15 months’ jail for committing criminal breach of trust and for theft in dwelling.  According to charge sheets, Phua was working for Gim Wee Renovation Contractor as an interior designer. His responsibilities included sourcing for potential clients and carrying out sales. 

He was also entrusted with cash from customers, meant to be payments for the company. 

Between October and December 2013, Phua pocketed S$37,650 by either failing to issue receipts or destroying the company’s copy of the receipts and he spent it gambling at Singapore Pools and on personal expenses.  Firm director Mr Quak Beng Gim noticed discrepancies between the amounts that should have been paid and the amounts received by the company. When confronted, Phua lied that the customers had delayed the payments. 

He only admitted to his misdeeds when Mr Quak confronted him a second time after checking with customers. Mr Quak then made a police report on Mar 26, 2014.  Phua was hauled to court on Apr 30, 2015. He was supposed to attend an afternoon hearing on the same day, but failed to do so. He then remained at large for more than two years.  On August 2017, while Phua was dropping off a parcel as a delivery driver for Moments Loft, he spotted a blue Perllini handbag belonging to a cleaner working in an apartment unit in Sommerville Park. 

The victim had left the main door to the unit open, and when Phua went into the unit, he spotted the handbag on top of the washing machine.  After stealing the handbag, Phua drove to Punggol Central in a van. Among other things, the bag contained S$530 worth of cash and a Samsung S7 phone. 

He kept both the cash and the phone, and threw the handbag, along with its remaining contents and the phone’s SIM card into a central rubbish bin. Phua used the stolen cash on his personal expenses and to repay a debt.  Phua was caught on CCTV cameras leaving the unit with the handbag, and was arrested on Aug 3, 2017. For committing criminal breach of trust by a clerk or servant, Phua could have been jailed for 15 years and fined. For theft, Phua could have been jailed for a maximum of seven years and fined.  

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Singapore Crime Theft Fraud