PUTRAJAYA: A youth who was charged with stealing a RM800 smartphone at Low Yat Plaza three years ago was today acquitted of the offence on technical grounds.
A three-man Court of Appeal bench chaired by Mohtarudin Baki said there was merit in Shahrul Anuar Abdul Aziz’s appeal against his convicton.
“There was a serious misdirection by the magistrate which tantamounts to a miscarriage of justice,” said Mohtarudin who sat with Yaacob Md Sam and Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil.
Mohtarudin said the magistrate in his notes of evidence had found that the prosecution had established a prima facie case to call Shahrul Anuar,25, to enter his defence.
“However, the magistrate in his grounds of judgment had stated the accused was guilty of the offence and he must enter his defence,” Mohtarudin said.
Defence was called and the accused needed only to rebut the prosecution’s case to create a doubt.
Mohtarudin said the prosecution’s cross-appeal against inadequacy of sentence was also nullified since Shahrul’s appeal had been allowed.
The judge, however, advised the accused to repent if he had indeed stolen the phone and to take the whole episode as a test from Allah if he was innocent.
“However, I have reason to believe that you committed the offence,” he said.
Earlier, during the proceedings, Mohtarudin also remarked that the court had the power to order a retrial.
On April 5, High Court Judicial Commissioner Ab Karim Ab Rahman ruled that the magistrate did not make any error in finding Shahrul Anuar guilty of stealing the phone.
“Therefore, the court finds you guilty under Section 379 of the Penal Code for theft instead of Section 380, which was the original charge,” he said.
Shahrul claimed trial on July 14, 2015, under Section 380 to committing theft inside a building.
Karim also dismissed the prosecution’s appeal to increase Shahrul’s 4-month jail sentence and RM1,000 fine.
Today, lawyer Shaharudin Ali, submitted to the bench that the magistrate was prejudiced that his client was guilty of the offence although he was ordered to enter his defence.
“The duty of the accused is only to create a doubt in the prosecution’s case to get an acquittal,” said Shahruddin, who was assisted by Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz.
Government lawyer Tengku Intan Suraya Tengku Ismail appeared for the prosecution.
In 2015, Shahrul was jailed four months and fined RM1,000 by the magistrate’s court for stealing the mobile phone.
His alleged action had resulted in a much-publicised racial riot outside the mall, with Malay NGOs claiming discrimination and cheating by traders.