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Sembawang hostage case: Man admits to kidnapping his girlfriend’s toddler
Officers from the Special Operations Command break into a unit at Block 462 Sembawang Drive after a 17-hour standoff on Sept 28, 2016. TODAY file photo
November 30th, 2017 | 09:32 AM | 849 views
Worried that his girlfriend would report him to the police for taking drugs, a 39-year-old man kidnapped her two-year-old son and held him hostage in their Sembawang rental flat for 17 hours before the toddler was rescued.
On Wednesday (Nov 29), at the start of what was supposed to be a three-day trial, Muhammad Iskandah Suhaimi decided to plead guilty to taking the toddler from his mother without her consent.
He was also admitted to three other charges, including owning a scheduled weapon in the form of a knuckle-duster, as well as possessing and consuming controlled drugs.
One other count of possessing drug-taking utensils would be taken into consideration for sentencing purposes.
Both the 33-year-old woman and the boy cannot be named due to a court order.
The court heard that on Sept 27 last year, at around 4pm, Iskandah told his girlfriend to buy cigarettes for him.
As she was leaving the flat, he suddenly pulled the toddler back in and locked the gate. The girlfriend pleaded with him to let her take her son out, but he ignored her. She was unable to unlock the gate because she was not allowed to keep her own set of house keys.
Iskandah even challenged her to call the police.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Stephanie Koh, who said that the woman was “alarmed” by what had happened, told the court: “(She) was fearful as she had not been separated from (her son) before and usually did not leave (him) alone with (Iskandah).”
Worried, the woman went to her mother’s house to seek help and the two went back to the Sembawang flat together.
Iskandah at first refused requests to release the toddler, but then said that he would do so if his girlfriend was willing to get into the flat in exchange for the boy.
HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
The women did not agree to this because they knew he had a history of violence towards his girlfriend.
At around 6.45pm, the woman’s mother called the police. The police were told that Iskandah had consumed methamphetamine, or ‘Ice’, earlier that morning, and that he had previously hit his girlfriend and was known to carry a knuckle-duster with him.
DPP Koh said that the girlfriend was “distraught” as she waited at the void deck of the public housing block, while police tried to persuade Iskandah to release the toddler. Iskandah was “aggressive, impatient and highly agitated at various points in his engagements with the police”, DPP Koh noted.
The negotiations went on through the night and, at one point, Iskandah was observed to be consuming drugs. He was incoherent at times, but alert and conscious of movement or noises, the court heard.
The toddler was asleep as Iskandah kept a close watch over him. It was only around noon the next day, when Iskandah went to the toilet, that a Special Operations Command team from the police managed to forcibly enter the apartment and rescue the boy, ending the 17-hour standoff.
Iskandah was arrested and the police uncovered his knuckle-duster, as well as drug-taking equipment during a search. The court heard that he would keep the knuckle-duster in his jeans whenever he went out.
Iskandah, who had no lawyer, told the court on Wednesday that he was “seeking leniency”, and hoped that his sentence would be passed on the same day.
DPP Koh asked for an updated psychiatric report before the prosecution would decide on its sentencing submissions.
Iskandah — who was previously convicted of drug-related offences, theft, and attempted rape — returns to court on Feb 26 next year.
He can be jailed up to 10 years, and/or fined or caned, for kidnapping the toddler.
For a first-time offence of possessing a knuckle-duster, he can be jailed up to five years and/or caned up to six strokes.
courtesy of TODAY
by Alfred Chua
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