Singapore Today – Monday, August 30, 1999
The elderly widow had treated him like her own.
After all, Mohamed Hassan Mohmed Arshad, 49 (above), was Madam Saedah Abdullah’s cousin.
And Madam Saedah, 74, saw quite a lot of him.
He often cycled from his flat nearby to her flat at Block 930, Tampines Street 91, to do minor handyman jobs, like fixing the lights or putting up shelves.
Madam Saedah, a retired executive officer with the British War Department who lived alone, used to give him $20 or $50 for such work.
Or for running errands for her.
But on March 16 this year, he was at her place for something else, the court was told last Friday. He had come for something bigger.
He wanted to borrow money. A large sum — $25,000.
This time, Madam Saedah refused.
And, one day later, relatives found Madam Saedah’s body.
Wanting the good life
What kind of man could do such a thing?
The kind who would lock himself in his room, like a kid, when confronted about his money problems by his parents.
He only let himself out when everyone else had gone.
The kind who seemed to want to enjoy the good life. Even though he was jobless.
Heading for trouble
Trouble for Mohamed Hassan began earlier this year after he took his brother’s ATM card. The undischarged bankrupt withdrew $18,000 without the latter’s consent and blew it on himself and his family.
He is married and has a three-year-old son.
But he panicked when his sisters confronted him on March 14.
That was when he locked himself in a room in his brother’s flat, refusing to talk to them.
He had let himself out only after they had all left a few hours later.
As if that was not enough, he took his brother’s passport and checked himself into Hotel 81 in Joo Chiat Road.
And spent the next two days drinking and enjoying the company of prostitutes.
Demand for $25,000
When the money was gone, Mohamed Hassan went to Madam Saedah’s flat on March 16 and demanded the $25,000.
She refused and asked him to leave.
He got angry because she had refused him what he wanted.
And she got angry when he didn’t want to leave.
Even when the elderly woman tried to push him out of the flat, he wouldn’t budge.
In the confusion that followed, she fell and hit her head on the coffee-table.
Still, that didn’t stop the angry old woman.
She kept shouting, demanding that he leave her flat.
That made Mohamed Hassan panic.
Grabbing some clothes from the bed, he smothered her face as she struggled on the floor.
When she stopped moving, he tried to revive her but failed.
It was too late.
Not wanting to see her face, he turned her body over.
He closed the windows and drew the curtains.
Then he ramsacked the flat, and wiped away all fingerprints and bloodstains before escaping with the loot.
Dinner, then hotel
Later that evening, he strolled to the City Plaza shopping complex after taking his dinner at the Haig Road hawker center, and dumped the dead woman’s ATM cards, bank books, identity card, and passport in a nearby canal.
He had earlier kept her cash and jewellery worth $5,800 in a safe deposit box.
Then we went to two pubs for more drinks.
His wife was away in Malaysia at the time.
He later checked into Garden Hotel, on Balmoral Road.
Victim’s body found
The body of Madam Saedah was found one day after the murder.
It made the news.
But, as is the normal practice, telephone calls were also made to inform relatives.
One was his wife. She came for the funeral.
And with her, the jobless man also turned up at the Tampines flat – where Madam Saedah was killed – for the last rites.
And like other relatives at the funeral, he even bent down to kiss Madan Saedah’s forehead as a show of respect.
That was before her body was wrapped up and prayers were said.
But, probably burdened with guilt, he stayed for only a few minutes and hardly mingled with other relatives.
He was the only one who didn’t look at or speak to Madam Saedah’s adopted daughter.
That puzzled her.
Said the daughter in an earlier interview with the New Paper: “He used to be very friendly, saying hello whenever we met.
“This time, he was nervous and fidgety.”