Man who escaped gallows in 1994 to hang for heroin trafficking

A 61-year-old man who escaped the gallows more than two decades ago for killing a Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officer has been sentenced to death for heroin trafficking.

In a written judgment released on Monday, Justice Valerie Thean rejected Roshdi Abdullah Altway's story that he was merely safekeeping the drugs and that the $18,000 found on him was meant for a delivery of anchovies.

In 1994, Roshdi, who was 35 at the time, had his murder conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal and was sentenced to 10 years' jail for culpable homicide instead.

The apex court found that Roshdi, a CNB informer, had hit Inspector Rajab Mohamed, 35, with a granite mortar in self-defence as he thought the officer was going for his revolver.

His 10-year sentence was ordered to run consecutively with a six-year term for unlawful possession of a revolver and six bullets.

In 2007, Roshdi was sentenced to 12 years' jail and 10 strokes of the cane for trafficking Subutex tablets and for drug consumption.

In September 2016, he was arrested at the void deck of a block of flats in Compassvale Lane with $18,000. Packets of drugs, later analysed to contain 78.77g of heroin, were found in his rented room in the block.

In his statements, Roshdi admitted the drugs in his room were for sale. But during his trial, he contended that he was only safekeeping the prepacked drugs for a person named Aru.

Roshdi challenged the admissibility of his statements, claiming he had been induced to make them by CNB officers who told him there was a "new law" and he would not be hanged if the drugs did not belong to him.

Justice Thean rejected this, saying there was no reason for Roshdi to trust the officers over the alleged utterances.

Moreover, by his own account, Roshdi was suspicious of CNB officers, stemming from his previous jail terms for homicide and drug trafficking.

Justice Thean added that he was explicitly told about the possibility of a death sentence.

The judge said the items found in Roshdi's room, which included three weighing scales stained with heroin, supported the narrative of the statements rather than the version he gave at trial. - THE STRAITS TIMES