Dad tells court: It's hard for me to control him
Deaf teen steals buses for joyrides for third time.
He got interested in buses at 16.
Desperate to drive one, the deaf boy stole and drove two buses in January.
His parents repeatedly told him he couldn't do this especially after police officers had descended on their home several times to investigate his crimes.
When he stole a third bus, his parents chose not to bail him out as they wanted the authorities to teach him a lesson.
The first incident was on Jan 31, when Muhammad Salahuddin Omar stole and drove two buses and was arrested.
Despite being released on police bail, he stole a third bus on March 8 to go on a joyride. He went to Woodlands Industrial Park E8 and stole a green and yellow bus. It was valued at about $200,000 and belonged to AZ Bus.
Yesterday, Muhammad Salahuddin, who turned 17 last month while in remand, pleaded guilty to stealing the vehicle owned by AZ Bus, driving under the age of 18 and driving without insurance.
Six other charges relating to his earlier offences in January were also taken into consideration for sentencing.
District Judge Siva Shanmugam asked Muhammad Salahuddin why no one posted the $15,000 bail for him.
He replied in sign language through an interpreter: "I don't know if my parents can come."
Judge Siva then called for Muhammad Salahuddin's father, who was sitting in the public gallery.
His father told the court he was ashamed of his son and that it was best to let the law deal with him.
He said he first realised his son had developed a keen interest in public transportation sometime last year.
Muhammad Salahuddin would attend exhibitions on public transportation with his elder brother and play computer games related to buses.
The boy's father told the court: "I don't want to bail him out so that he would not commit more offences. I already helped him so many times. It's hard for me to control him."
He added his son had made mistakes not once, but twice.
"Because of what he has done, officers from Jurong to Clementi to Woodlands Police Stations have come to my home. How ashamed I am," the father said.
He said his wife felt the same and that it was best that the law took care of his son.
Muhammad Salahuddin, who was unrepresented, said in mitigation he was sorry.
"I can't believe I made such a big mistake in stealing the vehicle. I feel like I wasted my life by this mistake."
The boy also said that he wanted to complete his studies and look for a job, and hoped that he would not have a criminal record to his name.
Judge Siva called for a pre-sentence report to determine Muhammad Salahuddin's suitability for probation and reformative training.
The court heard how he had stolen the third bus just two months after stealing the first two buses.
He chose AZ Bus' vehicle as it was automatic and easier to drive.
He boarded the bus by pressing the emergency exit button and climbing into the vehicle.
After searching the front of the bus, he found the ignition key next to the driver's seat and drove off.
At about 2pm, AZ Bus operations executive Toh Hoe Kok, 56, arrived at the industrial park and found the vehicle missing.
He took out his mobile phone and tracked the bus via a Global Positioning System (GPS) on board the vehicle.
He found it to be travelling along Kian Teck Road, in Jurong, and told one of his employees to follow it.
But when Mr Toh's colleague located and approached the bus, Muhammad Salahuddin did not stop.
The boy then continued to drive the bus onto the Ayer Rajah Expressway, before travelling along Jurong Town Hall Road, Boon Lay Way and Jurong Pier Road.
This was when Mr Toh got into his own vehicle and went after the bus.
He tracked the bus to Bukit Batok Central before driving in front of it and stopping it.
By then, Muhammad Salahuddin had driven for about 45 minutes and at least 60km.
The case will be heard again on June 4.
"I don't want to bail him out so that he would not commit more offences. I already helped him so many times..."
- Father of Muhammad Salahuddin Omar