Man Escapes the Gallows Over CNB Officer’s Death
The Straits Times, Tuesday, August 23, 1994
A salesman escaped the gallows after his conviction for murdering a Central Narcotics Bureau officer was quashed by the Court of Appeal yesterday.
Roshdi Abdullah Altway, 35, was instead sentenced to 10 years’ jail for culpable homicide. He had hit Inspector Rajab Mohamed, 35, with a granite mortar and killed him in self-defence.
The court found that Roshdi, who was convicted last November, had hit Insp Rajab’s body and head with the household implement use for pounding sambal when he thought the officer was going for his revolver. He hit the inspector’s head when he tried to choke him.
This happened at Roshdi’s flat in Serangoon North Avenue 2 between March 8 and 9 last year.
Insp Rajab died from multiple fractures of the skull.
His body was found in the back seat of his car at a multi-storey carpark in Tampines on March 11.
Roshdi had earlier been sentenced to six years’ jail and six strokes of the cane on each of two charges of unlawful possession of a Smith & Wesson revolver and six bullets. The jail terms are concurrent.
Yesterday, the court ordered the 10 years to run consecutively with the six years, which means that he will get a total of 16 years and 12 strokes of the cane.
Roshdi, the court heard, was a CNB informer and had known the inspector since 1990. Both men shared payments received from the CNB and bet on horses together.
Justice M. Karthigesu, who heard the appeal with Justice L.P. Thean and Justiec Goh Joon Seng, said in the reserved judgement that Roshdi’s account of what happened in his flat from the moment Insp Rajab arrived on March 8 last year was not inconsistent with his cautioned statement.
He had said in the statement that he had no intention of killing the CNB officer.
Justice Karthigesu said the interferences drawn by the trial judge, then Judicial Commissioner Kan Ting Shiu, were neither strong nor irresistible, and not sufficient to discredit and render Roshdi’s evidence worthless.
He said it was not unreasonable for Roshdi to interpret Insp Rajab’s movements as going for his revolver.
The court also found that the killing was not pre-meditated. Justice Karthigesu said a reading of Roshdi’s evidence gave the impression that Insp Rajab’s assault was relentless, and that Roshdi feared for his life.
“We see no reason for not accepting the appellant’s evidence of the sequence of events as narrated by him. In the absence of other evidence, it is not so incredible to be rendered unworthy of credit,” he said.
The court was also satisfied that there was a sudden fight, arising out of a quarrel over $4,730 which Roshdi owed the officer.
They were also unable to say that Roshdi had taken undue advantage of the situation or had acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
The court then quashed the conviction for murder and replaced it with manslaughter.
Roshdi’s lawyer, Mr. Singa Retnam, indicate that the appeal had been won to Roshdi’s sister, aunt and sister-in-law in the public gallery.
His sister, Madam Fetom Abdullah Altway, 42, a housewife, said: “We are very grateful to God for saving his life and thanks to the lawyers.”