A thief who stole $300 from a passenger sitting next to him on a flight to Singapore was jailed for a year yesterday.
Zhang Chunsheng, 49, admitted that he took a backpack containing a wallet which held the cash while on a SilkAir flight from Shenzhen, China, on March 6. It was owned by Singaporean Low Siow Ling, also 49.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yang Ziliang said Zhang removed Mr Low's backpack from the overhead compartment and walked to the toilet at about 7.50pm.
Two passengers saw what happened and told Mr Low to check his belongings.
Minutes later, Zhang returned from the toilet with the backpack and claimed he had taken the wrong bag. He returned it to Mr Low, who found $300 missing from his wallet.
DPP Yang said Mr Low did not confront Zhang about the missing cash, but informed the cabin crew about the incident shortly after.
Zhang was arrested when the plane landed at Changi Airport. Three $100 notes were found on him when he was searched by the police. Zhang initially said the money was his and claimed he had changed those notes in Shenzhen, but he later owned up.
The money was returned to Mr Low.
Zhang, who is from China's Jiangsu province, was supposed to be here for about two days before leaving for Macau. The police also seized various other currencies which he claimed belonged to him.
DPP Yang had urged the court to impose a stiff sentence of 12 months' jail. District Judge Brenda Tan backdated Zhang's sentence to his remand on March 8.
Zhang could have been jailed for up to three years and fined.
This article was published on April 5 in The Straits Times.
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