Accused had intention to kill, says judge of Kovan murders
Judge disagrees with defence's version of events, sentences cop to death for 2013 murders
High Court Judge Tay Yong Kwang disagreed with the defence's version of events and sentenced former cop Iskandar Rahmat to death for the 2013 murders.
He said of the defence that Iskandar would not be "such a foolish person", adding: "He would not have come up with such an inane plan. It was obvious that his escape without being identified was crucial to his plans".
HE WANTED TO ESCAPE UNNOTICED
Iskandar Rahmat's lawyers said during the nine-day trial that their client was in debt and facing bankruptcy proceedings.
So he hatched a plan to cheat and rob Mr Tan Boon Sin, 67, said the defence.
Iskandar, 36, told the court during the trial that he first convinced Mr Tan to withdraw about $200,000 in cash and valuables from his safe deposit box on July 10, 2013.
They then travelled in Mr Tan's car to his home at 14J, Hillside Drive, where Iskandar intended to grab Mr Tan's valuables and run, he said.
His encounter with Mr Tan at the Kovan house ended with the gory deaths of Mr Tan and his son, Mr Tan Chee Heong, 42.
But High Court Judge Tay Yong Kwang said yesterday that Iskandar's professed grab-and-run plan would have been one that "only a very foolish prospective thief would adopt".
Justice Tay noted that Iskandar would be running along a road with houses nearby in the afternoon and would likely be seen by neighbours.
Mr Tan was also likely to have chased Iskandar in his car.
Even if Iskandar made it to Upper Serangoon Road, which was 190m from the house, he would have needed to catch a taxi very quickly and without making the cabby suspicious, the judge said.
From there, he would have to make his way to Eunos Industrial Park, where he had parked a rented car.
"The accused did not appear to me to be such a foolish person. He would not have come up with such an inane plan. It was obvious that his escape without being identified was crucial to his plans," he added.
Justice Tay also noted that Iskandar "mysteriously" let slip chances to put his professed grab-and-run plan into action.
"It was unbelievable that the accused chose to go out of the compound of the house to smoke for some five long minutes instead of looking for an opportune moment to grab the bag of money and go."
HE WAS THE ATTACKER, NOT DEFENDER
Iskandar told the court that Mr Tan Boon Sin had suddenly flown into a rage and attacked him with a knife in the house after realising Iskandar had tricked him.
But Justice Tay said Mr Tan was much older and less agile, was due to go for a knee operation and was not known to be a violent person.
The judge added that Mr Tan could have called the police or his son in the event he found out that Iskandar was lying, instead of taking on Iskandar on his own.
Iskandar had also told the court that Mr Tan bit his left hand when he tried to cover the older man's mouth to prevent him from shouting.
Said Justice Tay: "It was totally inconceivable that a person in that situation, fearing for his life, would think of muzzling his attacker."
The judge added that Iskandar's anxiety in preventing Mr Tan from shouting showed that he was the one who was attacking the older man.
HE ATTACKED VICTIM RUTHLESSLY
Justice Tay said he did not accept Iskandar's testimony that Mr Tan Boon Sin had suddenly attacked him with a knife.
"(Mr Tan) had been a trusting and hospitable person from the time he met the accused at the Shell petrol station until that fateful telephone call when he allegedly transformed suddenly into a knife-wielding, violent man," the judge said.
"Even if somehow (Mr Tan) did find out that he had been duped by the accused, would he have become so enraged that he would immediately attack the accused with a knife that had a blade some 13cm long?"
Mr Tan suffered five wounds to his neck, seven to his chest and nine to his face or scalp.
Said Justice Tay: "The sheer number of wounds to very vulnerable parts of (Mr Tan's) body, compared with the relatively minor injuries on the arms and the hands of the accused, showed beyond all doubt that the accused was attacking (Mr Tan) ruthlessly."
The judge added that Iskandar may have hurt his right hand as the knife handle became slippery with blood "amid all the thrusting and cutting".
Justice Tay said it was not an efficient killing as Iskandar was a policeman, not "an accomplished assassin adept at killing with a few swift strokes of a knife".
HE HAD TO 'SILENCE' YOUNGER VICTIM
Before the stabbing, Mr Tan Boon Sin had phoned his son, Mr Tan Chee Heong, who left his office for Hillside Drive.
When the younger Mr Tan entered the house, he would have been shocked to see his father covered in blood and being lowered onto the floor by Iskandar, said Justice Tay.
Mr Tan Chee Heong would also have seen Iskandar holding a knife.
Iskandar testified that the younger Mr Tan had charged at him with his fists clenched.
But Justice Tay said he was doing no more than trying to protect his father or apprehend Iskandar.
"If there was any right of private defence to be exercised, that right would clearly belong to (Mr Tan Chee Heong) and not to the assailant."
The younger Mr Tan suffered seven stab and 13 incised wounds to his neck and head.
"The accused could not allow (Mr Tan Chee Heong) to live to recount what he had seen in the house... (and) had to silence completely the two persons who had seen him," the judge said.
Justice Tay noted that Iskandar was not even hurt during the incident with the younger Mr Tan, who was seen staggering out of the house before collapsing on the road.
Iskandar then got into Mr Tan Boon Sin's car and reversed it over the younger victim, who got stuck under the car and was dragged for about 1km before his body was dislodged near Kovan MRT station.
Justice Tay said Iskandar knew the car would run over Mr Tan Chee Heong's body but he did it because he was anxious to drive away from the house.
The judge said the alternative was for Iskandar to drag aside Mr Tan's body, but that would have increased the risk of being spotted by someone.
"After reversing the car into the access road, it was unfortunate that the low-profile undercarriage of the (Toyota) Camry caught hold of (Mr Tan's) body or his clothes.
"The car was the accused's means of escape and not a mean murder machine."
HE KNEW MURDER WEAPON
During the trial, the defence lawyers argued that there was no evidence that Iskandar took a knife to Mr Tan Boon Sin's home that day.
But Justice Tay noted that Iskandar was familiar with the knife's details - such as its serrated edge and grooves - despite it being covered with blood.
"The clear inference is that the accused had time to observe the knife before it became bloody in the continuous stream of events that day.
"That could only happen if the knife was with the accused some time before the attacks."
HE HAD INTENTION TO KILL
Justice Tay said Iskandar intended to kill Mr Tan Boon Sin before making off with his money.
While killing Mr Tan Chee Heong never featured in Iskandar's original plan, the younger man quickly became "collateral damage" after he entered the house and saw what happened.
"The multiple wounds on both (victims') vital areas showed that they were cruelly, deliberately and forcefully inflicted. They could not have been the result of reactionary and defensive moves by the accused."
Justice Tay then convicted Iskandar of two counts of murder under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty.
The accused was not expecting the bloodshed that eventually took place. He was going to kill an old man inside his house and that should not pose too much difficulty for him. The killing did not turn out to be as smooth and simple as he had hoped it would be. Further, he ended up having to kill another man because of the twist of events.
- High Court Judge Tay Yong Kwang on the double murders
His financial troubles
After finishing his O levels at Victoria School, Iskandar Rahmat spent a year at Singapore Polytechnic before dropping out and signing on with the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
He was eventually sponsored by the SPF and completed a diploma in management and police studies at Temasek Polytechnic in 2012.
Iskandar got into financial trouble after his divorce in 2005 because of housing, renovation and car loans taken out during the course of his marriage.
By June 2012, he still owed OCBC Bank more than $60,000.
In October 2012, the bank filed a bankruptcy application against Iskandar. It was served to him at his workplace.
On July 3, 2013, Iskandar wrote to the bank's lawyers and offered a one-off payment of $50,000. At the time, he had less than $400. OCBC Bank agreed and he had until July 11 to make payment.
On July 10, the date of the murders, the bank sent Iskandar a payment reminder.
The following day, he was made a bankrupt. By then, he had fled to Johor Baru, where he was later arrested.
Widow still can't accept deaths
Madam Ong Ah Tang, the widow of motor workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, still struggles with accepting the deaths of her husband and son.
When The New Paper visited her home at 14J, Hillside Drive, yesterday, she did not answer the door.
At about 5pm, a relative who did not want to be named told reporters that Madam Ong was not well.
She has been struggling with accepting the reality of the two deaths because "this is not an easy thing to deal with", he said.
Asked how Madam Ong felt about the judgment, he said: "It's very hard to describe her feelings now. This is not something that you just accept."
LENDING SUPPORT: (Above) Mr Tan Boon Sin and Mr Tan Chee Heong’s family in court yesterday.
He added that she still lives in the house where her husband and her son were murdered.
In the High Court yesterday, the media and public galleries were packed with close to 80 people, including about a dozen of Iskandar Rahmat's family and friends.
It was the first time any of Iskandar's family had appeared in court. They were stoic and impassive even as Justice Tay Yong Kwang handed down the death sentence.
But at the end of the hearing, when the judge allowed Iskandar 20 minutes to speak to his family under supervision, his sister and elderly parents broke down. They were heard telling him to take care of himself and to stay strong.
Iskandar's lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, said he would be appealing against the conviction.