July 18 Serial burglar gets 20 years' detention

SINGAPORE - Recalcitrant offender Darzuki Ombri was granted early release from prison on compassionate grounds in February last year when he was given a week to live.

Somehow, he survived a cerebral haemorrhage - bleeding in the brain - and a year later, he was back to his old ways, breaking into houses.

On Monday, the 59-year-old, who has been committing crimes since he was a teenager, was sentenced to the maximum 20 years of preventive detention for housebreaking and theft.

It means he will have to serve the full term with no remission for good behaviour.

It is the third time he has been given preventive detention meant for hardcore criminals. In 1987, he was given 12 years and caning, and in 2001, 20 years and caning for burglary.

Early this year, he broke into houses in Bukit Timah and got away with about $17,000 worth of property over a three-month period.

A district court heard that Darzuki broke into a house in Adam Park on March 24 by punching through a false wall.

He stole $12,600 worth of property, including mobile phones, tablet computers, notebooks and jewellery. Darzuki sold the electronic goods to a shop in Toa Payoh for a total of about $600. He threw the rest of the items away.

On March 10, he broke into a house at Swiss Cottage Estate in Novena by climbing in through a toilet window on the second floor and got away with items worth $1,699. He sold an Apple iTouch device and two cameras for about $100.

And closed-circuit television footage from a house in Malcolm Park in February revealed Darzuki as the burglar.

When he pleaded guilty last month to two of four charges, he told the court that he was remorseful.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo said: "But you have been remorseful since 1970. When are you going to stop being remorseful? How many times have you said this?"