Three get lengthy jail terms for mosque thefts

National 2 minutes, 2 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE High Court yesterday sentenced three men to serve lengthy jail terms for their involvement in a series of thefts at mosques in what the judge said was one of the worst cases of housebreaking he had heard because it involved places of worship.

In sentencing the defendants yesterday, the presiding judge, Justice Dato Paduka Hairol Arni Hj Abdul Majid, ordered both Hj Jumat Hj Jaya, 39; and Sahri Jarudin, 45; to each serve 11 years in jail with eight strokes of the cane.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Sediken Hj Bujang, 32, was jailed for 12 years with nine strokes of the cane as he had caused most of the property damage when committing the thefts.

“These are perhaps the worst offences of housebreaking with intent to commit theft, theft in a dwelling and mischief causing damage (in) a place of worship, in this case masjid, ever brought before this court,” said Justice Dato Paduka Hairol Arni.

The presiding judge went on to say damage to the mosques and the donation boxes was substantial and testament to the ruthlessness of the burglars.

The offences were committed between November 30, 2013, and January 9, 2014, when 15 mosques in Brunei-Muara, Tutong and Belait districts were broken into and their donation boxes stolen.

Justice Dato Paduka Hairol Arni said the mosques had been attacked in the early hours when they were vulnerable as officials would not be working and no members of the public would be present.

“(While) these break-ins were reported to the police and these had been going on almost daily, I am surprised that no precautions were taken by the mosque officials, or for that matter other relevant enforcement agencies to stand guard to secure the safety of these mosques,” said Justice Dato Paduka Hairol Arni.

The court further said the defendants’ actions suggested they were devoid of conscience given the attacks had occurred in places of worship and that the money stolen was intended for charitable acts.

“These are relentless attacks on masjid. These were premeditated and well planned, if not ruthless in their execution,” said the presiding judge.

In sentencing the defendants, who each had a previous theft-related conviction, the judge said the seriousness of the offences warranted deterrent sentences appropriate to the criminality and overall culpability of the defendants.

The court further noted that no restitution of the money had been made.

The three men, all Bruneian citizens, were ordered to serve their respective sentences from when they were first remanded.

The Brunei Times