Public Prosecutor v L Hassan and Others

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeMPH Rubin J
Published date27 February 2013
Plaintiff CounselMathavan Devadas and G Kannan (Deputy Public Prosecutors)
Defendant CounselMohamed Muzammil (M P D Nair & Co) and Ahmad Nizam bin Abbas (AC) (Ahmad Nizam Abbas & Co) (both assigned),James Masih (James Masih & Co) and Anna Othman (AC) (Edwin Tay & Co) (both assigned),B J Lean (B J Lean) and Abdul Rahman bin Mohd Saleh (AC) (A J Tahir Syed & Saleh) (both assigned)

Judgment :

GROUNDS OF DECISION

1 Three Indonesian nationals, L Hassan, aged 36 years, also known as Hasabo, Lasabo or Bob (‘the first accused’), Derman Sigalingging alias Johnny, aged 24 years also known as Batak or John (‘the second accused’) and Juma Ali Lakia, aged 34 years (‘the third accused’), were jointly charged and tried before me on the following charge that:

[They] on the 26th day of December 1996, between 11.22 am and 1.00 pm, at unit #06-01, of the uncompleted Tower A, at Kajima Construction Site, River Valley Road, Singapore, did in furtherance of the common intention of you all, commit murder by causing the death of one Mustakim, an Indonesian National, to wit, by striking him on the head with a metal jack base, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 302 read with section 34 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

2 Evidence adduced by the prosecution established that at about 3.00pm on 26 December 1996, police Corporal Adam bin Mohd (PS-9/PW-4) (‘Cpl Adam’) who was on duty at a scene of fire at the Kajima Construction site (‘the Kajima site’) at River Valley Road was informed by a 17-year-old Indonesian worker, one Toyo Rahmat (PS-7/PW-15) (‘Toyo’) that his friend - subsequently identified as the victim Mustakim, another Indonesian male aged 18 had been attacked by someone on the sixth floor of the uncompleted Tower A of the Kajima site.

3 Cpl Adam immediately rushed upstairs and found at the scene the body of the deceased on a sheet of plywood astride a bath tub. The victim’s head was covered with blood and there were blood splatterings on the wall next to the bath tub. Cpl Adam also noticed a blood-stained metal jackbase resting on the deceased’s body.

4 Cpl Adam at once informed the police operation room to summon the ambulance and in the meantime secured the scene. Ambulance officer, Habsah bte Abu (PS-10/PW-5) who arrived at the scene at about 3.14pm the same day together with a colleague examined the motionless body of Mustakim and finding that life was already extinct, formally recorded the death of the victim at 3.20pm.

5 Dr Gilbert Lau (PS-3/PW-3) (‘Dr Lau’), a forensic pathologist attached to the Institute of Science and Forensic Medicine, examined the deceased at the scene at about 5.32pm and found that the death of the victim had probably occurred about three to six hours prior to the time of the examination.

6 Dr Lau conducted an autopsy on 27 December 1996, at about 9.15am and noted altogether 13 injuries on the body of the deceased - out of which nine were on the head and face region. He concluded that death was due to a severe open head injury, consistent with the repeated application of a blunt and heavy object, mainly to the left side of the deceased’s head. He testified that based on the severe and extensive damage to the skull and brain, very considerable force would have been used by the attackers. He also opined that the injuries found on the deceased were likely to have been inflicted by the metal jackbase found at the scene and that they were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause his death.

7 Evidence adduced at the trial also established that following information received, the first accused was apprehended at about 2.30pm on 31 December 1996 at Rochore Centre; the second accused was detained at about 11.30am on 2 January 1997 also at Rochore Centre; and the third accused was arrested at about 11.20pm on 6 January 1997 at an uncompleted condominium site at Jalan Jurong Kechil.

8 Before dealing with matters which occurred after the arrests of the accused persons and issues concerning the admissibility of statements recorded by the police, reference ought to be made to the evidence tendered by four Indonesian nationals who were well-acquainted with the deceased and happened to be the last few who had reportedly seen the deceased hours before and perhaps shortly after his death - although none of them was present when the fatal assault took place.

9 Toyo testified that both he and the deceased were illegal immigrants. They met each other at the Kajima site and since then both of them had been staying and working there whenever there was work available. On the night preceding the day Mustakim met his death, both of them slept on the tenth floor of Tower A of the Kajima site. However, when he woke up at about 7.30am on 26 December 1996 Mustakim was not around. He later met Mustakim at unit #06-01 of the building and was told that no work would be available that day. Soon they and a few of their friends congregated for breakfast on the sixth floor.

10 After breakfast, Toyo left Mustakim and two of their friends, La Roni Hatibae (‘La Roni’) (PS-30/PW-19) and La Acim to rest in another room of the building and in the event, fell asleep for some time. When he woke up from his sleep a while later, he felt hungry. He then made his way to the bathroom at the master bedroom of unit #06-01 where Mustakim was resting earlier. There, to his horror, he found Mustakim motionless and his head covered with blood. He called out to Mustakim but there was no response. Thinking that Mustakim might still be alive, he decided to summon for help. He looked out of the window and saw a police car. He immediately rushed down and approached a police officer, Cpl Adam and related to him what he had come across and presently led the police officer to the bathroom where the body of the deceased lay. It was then almost 3.00pm.

11 The evidence of Almin (PS-8/PW-16) insofar as is material was as follows.

12 On 24 December 1996, he re-entered Singapore at about 9.00am. From there he proceeded to Rochore Centre where he met Ali Kaharudin Munte (‘Ali Kaharudin’) (PS-29/PW-18), an old acquaintance, who took him and two other Indonesians to the sixth floor of the Kajima site where he was introduced to a few fellow Indonesians. Mustakim was one amongst them.

13 On 25 December 1996, following a fire at the Kajima site, about nine Indonesian workers slept in a room on the sixth floor of the building – Tower A. On 26 December 1996 at about 8.00am, Almin saw the second accused whom he had known since 1994, on the sixth floor of the building. The second accused, soon, made his exit from the unit.

14 At about 9.00am that day as Almin, Ali Kaharudin and one Amir were leaving the site for sightseeing, Almin again saw the second accused and another Indonesian whom he had not seen before at the canteen at the ground level of the Kajima site.

15 Later at about 1.00pm Almin returned to the site with Ali Kaharudin and Amir and as they were at the ground floor in the vicinity of the canteen, Almin noticed that the second accused was running slightly in front of the other Indonesian whom he had earlier seen to be in the company of the second accused. Not suspecting anything, he and his friends momentarily made their way to the sixth floor when they were surprised by La Roni running down the steps crying hysterically. The latter reported to them that Mustakim had died. All of them at once hurried upstairs and there they saw the body of the deceased lying on a plywood placed across a bath tub. Almin noticed that the deceased was motionless with blood splattered all over him.

16 Thereafter, all of them hurried to the ground floor to seek help. Almin at first used a public phone to call the police but quickly replaced the receiver when it dawned on him that he was an illegal immigrant in Singapore. Soon, all of them left the Kajima site for Rochore Centre and did not return there fearing that the place would be visited by police on account of Mustakim’s death.

17 The evidence of Ali Kaharudin was as follows. He was another illegal immigrant. Having arrived in Singapore sometime in September 1996 together with Mustakim and one La Acim, all of them eventually found employment at the Kajima site. They initially occupied a room at the third floor of Tower A of the building but later moved to the sixth floor. A few more Indonesians came to stay with them. They were La Roni, Alimuddin, La Ganti and later Toyo. However, Alimuddin left the site before 25 December 1996.

18 Ali Kaharudin confirmed that on 24 December 1996, he met Almin and two others at Rochore Centre and they thereafter proceeded to the Kajima site. On 25 December 1996, there was a fire at the Kajima site. As the place was swarming with police, Ali Kaharudin and his friends stayed put in the building.

19 On the morning of 26 December 1996, he woke up before 7.00am and proceeded to the canteen at the ground level for breakfast but it was closed. There he saw the first and the second accused. He then returned to the sixth floor where all his friends except for Toyo gathered. Ali Kaharudin advised them that the police were likely to inspect the Kajima site soon and advised them to leave the site temporarily. The deceased did not join them; he told him that he wanted to take a shower first before he went out. Thereafter Ali Kaharudin left the site with his friends Amir and Almin at about 9.30am.

20 Sometime before 1.00pm on 26 December 1996, Ali Kaharudin and his friends returned to the Kajima site. As they gained entry to the site through the rear entrance of the canteen, he saw three male persons walking hurriedly in a single row, amongst whom he recognised the first and the second accused.

21 As all of them were climbing the stairs to the sixth floor, they met La Roni on the way. He was pale and crying uncontrollably. He told them that Mustakim had died. All of them then hurried to the bathroom upstairs where they saw Mustakim lying motionless on a plywood sheet placed across the bath tub in a pool of blood. There was a metal implement resting over his body. Ali Kaharudin called out the name of Mustakim but there was no response. They then decided to leave the place for fear that police would arrive soon. La Roni, Amir and Ali Kaharudin left the Kajima site in a taxi for Rochore Centre where Ali Kaharudin met La Ganti and...

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4 cases
  • Daniel Vijay s/o Katherasan and others v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 3 September 2010
    ...was acquitted of murder (see, eg, Public Prosecutor v Mazlan bin Maidun & Anor [1992] SGHC 134 and Public Prosecutor v L Hassan & 2 Ors [1998] SGHC 357)). There are also cases where the court found that there was a common intention to cause grievous hurt or injury that was found to be s 300......
  • Lee Chez Kee v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 12 May 2008
    ...would still be guilty of the offence of murder by virtue of the operation of s 34 of the Penal Code. 173 Similarly, in PP v L Hassan [1998] SGHC 357 (“L Hassan”), which was again a robbery-murder case, the High Court required the common intention to be to commit murder, the very offence the......
  • Lee Chez Kee v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 12 May 2008
    ...would still be guilty of the offence of murder by virtue of the operation of s 34 of the Penal Code. 173 Similarly, in PP v L Hassan [1998] SGHC 357 (“L Hassan”), which was again a robbery-murder case, the High Court required the common intention to be to commit murder, the very offence the......
  • Daniel Vijay s/o Katherasan and others v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 3 September 2010
    ...was acquitted of murder (see, eg, Public Prosecutor v Mazlan bin Maidun & Anor [1992] SGHC 134 and Public Prosecutor v L Hassan & 2 Ors [1998] SGHC 357)). There are also cases where the court found that there was a common intention to cause grievous hurt or injury that was found to be s 300......

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