SINGAPORE: A 40-year-old drug abuser was sentenced to two years’ jail on Tuesday (Mar 20) for taking his girlfriend’s two-year-old son hostage in a Sembawang flat in 2016, sparking a 17-hour stand-off with the police.
Muhammad Iskandah Suhaimi was convicted of four charges last November - for kidnapping, possessing and consuming methamphetamine, as well as for illegally possessing a knuckleduster.
In total, he was sentenced to five years' jail and six strokes of the cane on Tuesday.
A District Court heard that on Sep 27, 2016, at about 4pm, Iskandah told his girlfriend – the boy’s mother – to buy him a pack of cigarettes.
The 33-year-old left the flat with her son in tow. However, Iskandah grabbed the boy and pulled him back into the unit, locking the door.
Iskandah had confiscated the keys to his girlfriend’s fifth-floor flat at Sembawang Drive weeks before, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh told the court. The woman and her child cannot be named due to a gag order.
Stranded, the woman turned to her mother, who went to the flat to persuade Iskandah to let her grandson go.
Iskandah refused, and proposed a “trade”. He wanted his girlfriend to enter the unit alone in exchange for her child. Afraid that he would hit her like he had done before, the woman refused.
The grandmother called the police at about 6.45pm.
Negotiators from the Crisis Negotiation Unit were deployed, but their efforts to get him to release the child were not successful.
“The accused was aggressive, impatient and highly agitated”, and the police refused to accede to his demands, said the prosecutor.
At one point, Iskandah consumed methamphetamine in front of the police while still barricaded inside the flat with the child. “This act was calculated as an affront to the authority of the police,” the prosecutor added.
At about noon the next day, when Iskandah went to use the toilet, a Special Operations Command team forced its way into the flat by breaking a window.
They rescued the two-year-old boy, who was asleep during most of the negotiation process, said the prosecutor.
Iskandah later admitted that he kept the child as collateral, afraid that his girlfriend would call the police on him for taking drugs. Two urine samples confirmed he had consumed methamphetamine that day.
A knuckleduster and a packet of methamphatatime was found in the unit. The boy’s mother admitted the drugs were for her and Iskandah to share. It is not clear if the woman has been charged.
Seeking a five-year jail term and six strokes of the cane, the prosecution said Iskandah is “a danger to society”.
He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in May 2017, which was “likely to have been exacerbated” by his methamphetamine addiction, according to one of six psychiatric reports.
Another report stated that Iskandah does not believe he is mentally unwell and has refused medication. “He remains psychotic, with active paranoid delusions and continues to be ambivalent about his (drug use),” the report stated.
However, despite his psychiatric condition, Iskandah was “well aware of the wrongfulness of his actions and was in full control of his faculties” when he kidnapped the child, said the prosecutor.
His actions were “calculated and deliberate” – to prevent his girlfriend from “getting rid” of him by using her child as a bargaining chip, she argued.
The prosecutor added that Iskandah “appears to have no rehabilitative potential”, pointing to his track record of violence, including a conviction for attempted rape in 2009.
In mitigation, Iskandah pleaded for a lenient sentence, pointing out that he did not hurt his girlfriend’s son.