The High Court yesterday substituted a woman’s jail sentence of two years and eight months to three years and four months, after allowing the Public Prosecutor’s appeal.
Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong agreed with the Public Prosecutor that the sentence handed by the Magistrate’s Court to Nur Sabihah binti Haji Zulfikri for 15 counts of theft and nine counts of money laundering was “unduly lenient”.
“This is a case of a young woman who clearly mislaid her moral compass and began stealing from her elderly mother’s savings to fund a luxury lifestyle,” the Chief Justice said.
The Public Prosecutor, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Muhd Qamarul Affyian bin Abdul Rahman applied for Nur Sabihah’s sentence to be revised, citing the reasons.
In late 2019, Nur Sabihah had been approached by a cousin, Hajah Siti Khadizah, who wanted to borrow some money.
Nur Sabihah said that she was unable to help and suggested that her cousin borrowed from her mother instead, but her cousin was reluctant to do so. Nur Sabihah then devised a plan for her mother’s bank account details to be acquired by Hajah Siti Khadizah, so that she could register for online banking and transfer the money to her cousin’s account through the bank.
Hajah Siti Khadizah enlisted the help of a friend who worked at the bank where Nur Sabihah’s mother had an account.
Hajah Siti Khadizah reasoned her request with the story that her best friend needed to deposit some money into her mother’s account, but was unable to make the transaction as the mother was abroad and could not be reached.
She also claimed that she had forgotten to bring the bank book to make the deposit. The bank staff then gave the account details to Hajah Siti Khadizah.
The account details were passed to Nur Sabihah, who used them to register for online banking and gain access to her mother’s account.
From October 2019 to March 2020, Nur Sabihah made 15 transactions totalling BND67,800 to Hajah Siti Khadizah’s account.
By including transfer fees, the victim suffered a total loss of BND67,960.
On March 7, the victim and her husband went to the bank branch to do a routine transaction of depositing money into her savings account. While her husband was updating the bank book, the staff informed him that the money had been transferred to a different account in another bank.
As neither of them had transferred any money to a different account, he became suspicious. Initially, they assumed that it was a banking error. Preliminary queries led them to their daughter. On March 9, the victim lodged a report at the Sengkurong Police Station.
Police arrested the two women on March 11, for questioning.
On deciding to revise the sentence, the Chief Justice said, “The gravity of the offences is apparent, from the facts recited. The respondent was both rapacious and selfish. A substantial amount of money was stolen by the respondent on five separate occasions, over a span of five months, which she spent extravagantly at the expense of her mother.
“The Court is informed by the Deputy Public Prosecutor that the mother kept her life savings in the (specific bank account).”