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Man convicted of murdering housemate in Teck Whye flat sentenced to life imprisonment

SINGAPORE — A 52-year-old who admitted stabbing a housemate in the chest with a kitchen knife, but denied intending to kill him, has been convicted by the High Court of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Man convicted of murdering housemate in Teck Whye flat sentenced to life imprisonment

Mohammad Rosli Abdul Rahim (right) arriving at the State Courts in August 2017.

  • Mohammad Rosli Abdul Rahim admitted stabbing housemate Mohammad Roslan Zaini, 35, in the chest with a kitchen knife
  • The duo had quarrelled over payments for their flat rental and utilities fees
  • Rosli claimed trial because he said he did not intend to kill the other man
  • The prosecution said evidence showed otherwise
  • The High Court found Rosli guilty of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment 

SINGAPORE — A 52-year-old who admitted stabbing a housemate in the chest with a kitchen knife, but denied intending to kill him, has been convicted by the High Court of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mohammad Rosli Abdul Rahim was found guilty of murdering 35-year-old Mohammad Roslan Zaini on Aug 16, 2017 in their fourth-floor unit at Block 165A, Teck Whye Crescent.

When Rosli was arrested, he gave statements to investigators where he confessed to using the knife, which had a 17cm-long blade, on Roslan to hurt him. 

Rosli was angry with him for allegedly insulting his mother, and the duo had argued over payments for the flat rental and utilities fees.

Court documents showed that the knife ultimately penetrated Roslan’s heart and caused “acute internal bleeding” within the chest.

However, Rosli claimed trial to the murder charge because he denied that he intended to cause the man’s death.

The trial began on Feb 16 last year and Rosli has been in remand since the killing. He was found guilty of murder on Nov 9 last year and sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday (Jan 13).

Although the accused claimed that he accidentally inflicted the fatal injury due to poor lighting while using a slashing action, the evidence shows otherwise.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Yang Ziliang, Andre Chong Wei Min and Zhou Yang

'EVIDENCE SHOWS OTHERWISE'

Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) Yang Ziliang, Andre Chong Wei Min and Zhou Yang said in their closing submissions that many facts of the case were undisputed.

The key fact in dispute, they said, was how the accused inflicted the fatal injury, and consequently his “mens rea”, or criminal intent, when he inflicted the fatal injury.

“Although the accused claimed that he accidentally inflicted the fatal injury due to poor lighting while using a slashing action, the evidence shows otherwise,” they said.

The prosecutors said forensic evidence had shown that the fatal injury could only have been caused by a stabbing action and two eyewitnesses who were in the flat at the time confirmed seeing stabbing actions from the suspect.

The court heard that around 1am on the day of the killing, three others, including a friend of Roslan’s, watched a movie with the two men in their flat.

One of the others left at about 2am and had not observed any dispute. The group continued watching movies.

Around 4am, Rosli and Roslan began arguing over money. Rosli grew angry at Roslan’s comments, retrieved a knife from the kitchen and walked back to the living room, where he stabbed the other man in the chest.

Upon witnessing the attack, the two others fled, running to their sister’s unit nearby and telling her to call the police.

The prosecutors added on Thursday that when Rosli was confronted with forensic evidence under cross-examination, he “pivoted and agreed” that Roslan’s wound could not have been inflicted by slashing or slicing motions.

However, they said that during the re-examination by his own lawyer, Rosli “pivoted yet again and bizarrely demonstrated” how Roslan had effectively impaled himself on the knife.

They said that Rosli's “inability to keep his story straight”, and his failure to provide a plausible alternative explanation, made it clear that there was “no reasonable doubt” that he had inflicted the fatal injury by stabbing Roslan in the chest.

'AMPLE MOTIVE'

Turning to his criminal intent, they said that Rosli had ample motive to stab Roslan in the chest, as he had admitted his intention to hurt his housemate to teach him a lesson.

Among their arguments, the prosecutors said Rosli felt that the Roslan was “cheating him by demanding the payment of rent that he had already paid”.

“This was clearly weighing on (Rosli’s) mind at the material time, as he accused the deceased of cheating him shortly before stabbing the latter.” 

Moreover, Rosli had told psychiatrists that he attacked Roslan with the intention of “teaching him a lesson” and that Roslan was “better dead”.

The prosecutors said: “These collectively amounted to an admission that he had inflicted the chest stab wound to the deceased with the intention of inflicting such bodily injury.”

The accused’s intention to cause the fatal injury could also be inferred from his choice of the knife, they said, which was the largest bladed instrument in the kitchen, as well as his lack of hesitation in wielding the knife against Roslan.

Rosli’s original lawyers, Mr Anand Nalachandran, Mr Low Chun Yee and Ms Adeline Goh, discharged themselves before his sentencing.

The lawyers had previously stated in their mitigation plea that life imprisonment was appropriate for Rosli, a sentence to which the prosecution did not object, they noted. A murder conviction can also result in the death penalty.

The case has since been handed over to lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen and Hamza Zafar Malik, who made their first court appearance on Thursday. They said that they will be appealing against their client’s conviction and sentence.

Related topics

court crime murder stabbing Teck Whye

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