SINGAPORE: A 58-year-old man was jailed for life on Thursday (Apr 19) for stabbing his friend to death after a heated argument at a Guillemard Road coffee shop in 2015.
Yaacob Mohamed Yatim plunged a 13cm-long kitchen knife into the back of Abdul Rashid Mohd Nenggal. This happened at about 9pm on May 3, 2015 in front of horrified witnesses.
Rashid, 48, collapsed on the road, landing on the back of his head. Yaacob then kicked him in the face before walking away.
Paramedics found Rashid lying unconscious in a pool of blood, with no pulse. Multiple attempts to resuscitate him failed, and he was pronounced dead hours later.
Yaacob was arrested the next day.
Rashid had suffered a fractured skull, and the deep stab wound penetrated his left lung, oesophagus and thoracic aorta, the largest artery in the body, said Deputy Public Prosecutors Mohamed Faizal and Sarah Ong.
RELATIONS SOURED OVER MISPLACED SALARY
The High Court heard that Yaacob, who worked as a cleaner, had helped Rashid get a job shortly after they met at a coffee shop in Geylang. At the time, Rashid was fresh out of prison.
However, Rashid left the job soon after. Their boss handed Rashid’s daily salary of S$45 to Yaacob, but he misplaced the money before he could give it to Rashid.
“Our client’s goodwill was repaid with malice when (Yaacob) misplaced the deceased’s salary … and the deceased refused to accept our client’s explanation and partial payment,” Yaacob’s lawyers Anand Nalachandran and Yusfiyanto Yatiman said.
Yaacob eventually paid Rashid in full the same day, but their friendship soured as a result of the incident. The defence said Yaacob then took steps to distance himself from Rashid, who had hit him before.
On May 3, a chance meeting at SSBB Enterprise coffee shop at 3D Guillemard Road led to a heated argument and to Rashid’s death.
Yaacob and a friend had met at the coffee shop past 8pm that night. Coincidentally, Rashid was there as well, where he had been drinking since three in the afternoon.
Rashid spotted Yaacob and approached him. An argument broke out and Rashid punched the older man, causing him to fall. Yaacob stood back up and continued with his meal. Someone pulled Rashid away, although he continued to shout at Yaacob, “slightly tipsy and spoiling for a fight”, lawyers said.
When Yaacob finished eating, he told his friend to wait at their table. He walked to a supermarket nearby to buy a kitchen knife, which he hid in his back pocket.
Back at the coffee shop, Yaacob called his mother to seek her forgiveness, said the prosecutor. When Rashid approached him again, Yaacob stabbed him in the back.
Prosecutors sought a life sentence for Yaacob, acknowledging that he had pleaded guilty. Because it is a murder charge, prosecutors still had to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. They tendered 58 witness statements and several of Yaacob’s own statements as evidence.
Yaacob’s lawyers, who took on the case pro bono, said in mitigation that it was Rashid who was the initial aggressor, and that Yaacob “had no premeditated plan to kill”.
One of his lawyers added that Yaacob has had a tragic life. His wife had died and his daughter succumbed to leukaemia when she was seven.
Yaacob had also spent seven years detained at the President’s pleasure for killing his brother-in-law in a domestic dispute in 1999. He was charged with murder, but the charge was withdrawn because he was found to be of unsound mind, Mr Nalachandran said.
Yaacob was detained from 2000 to 2007 at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), where he received treatment for epilepsy. He continued treatment until 2011.
In the present case, Yaacob was found to be of sound mind and fit to plead, the High Court heard.
Following his release from IMH, Yaacob led “a simple and solitary existence” taking care of his widowed mother, Mr Nalachandran said. Now, Yaacob is “acutely aware he may never be able to take care of his mother again”, but “has come to terms that (this is) a consequence of his own folly”, the lawyer said.
For murder, Yaacob could have been sentenced to death. He cannot be caned as he is above 50 years old.