A deaf-mute teen who stole buses for joyrides was given 24 months' probation yesterday.
Muhammad Salahuddin Omar, 17, drove a bus for about 45 minutes on March 8 after stealing it from Woodlands Industrial Park E8, where it had been parked.
During sentencing, Community Court Judge Mathew Joseph noted that the teenager had a keen interest in buses.
Earlier, probation officer Siti Aisha Khan Surattee told the court that Salahuddin was interested in taking engineering and electrical courses, such as those on maintaining rail systems, once he has completed his N levels.
Judge Joseph said: "That will be something useful given the breakdowns we have these days... the disruptions to our rail system."
He told Salahuddin that he needed to use his talents wisely and not steal buses for joyrides.
The judge also felt the teen's speech and hearing impediment had some impact on his offences because he was frustrated with his inability to communicate.
He advised the youth's parents attend sign language classes so they could better communicate.
The father agreed. He also said he had bought Salahuddin hearing aids, but the teen did not like wearing them because they were uncomfortable and he kept losing them.
He added that the hearing aids cost $3,000 to $4,000, and required a lot of paperwork to buy.
Judge Joseph said that he would make a note in his judgment so that other agencies could help the boy in his rehabilitation.
"This is a case where the collective effort of everyone is needed to help the young man. It's a journey that he cannot walk alone," the judge said.
Communicating through a sign-language interpreter, Salahuddin promised the judge that he would wear his hearing aid.
As part of his probation, he will be electronically tagged for six months and must remain indoors from 10pm to 5.30am.
The judge relaxed the usual curfew after he was told that Salahuddin leaves his Woodlands home at 5.30am every day to get to his school in Boon Lay on time.
His parents have to put up a $5,000 bond to ensure his good behaviour.
Muhammad Salahuddin was arrested on March 8 for stealing a 45-seater bus belonging to AZ Bus. At the time, he was on police bail for taking two buses from carparks in Bukit Batok and Jurong Road on Jan 31.
At about 2pm, AZ Bus operations executive Toh Hoe Kok realised that the $200,000 bus was missing.
He tracked the bus through his mobile phone, which was linked to a Global Positioning System device on the vehicle, which was going in circles along Ayer Rajah Expressway and in Jurong.
The 56-year-old went after the bus in his car and managed to stop it near Bukit Batok Central.
The court heard that Salahuddin had stolen the Yutong model bus as it had an automatic transmission and was easier to drive.
After finding the ignition key, which was kept in a compartment on the bus, he drove around for about 45 minutes before Mr Toh caught up with him and called the police.
The maximum penalty for vehicle theft is seven years' jail, fine and disqualification.
This article was first published on July 9, 2015.
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