Cleaner killed supervisor at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, pawned victim's jewellery for dowry: prosecution

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Ahmad Muin Yaacob hid 54-year-old Maimunah Awang’s body in a drain at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (PHOTO: Google Street View screengrab)

SINGAPORE — A Malaysian cleaner who was due to be married but had no savings allegedly stabbed his female supervisor to death with a pair of grass cutters and took her gold jewellery.

Ahmad Muin Yaacob then hid 54-year-old Maimunah Awang’s body in a drain at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT), where they both worked, then fled to his home country – where he pawned the victim’s items to raise his dowry.

This was part of the case laid out by prosecutors against the accused at the High Court on Tuesday (17 September). Ahmad Muin, now 26, faces the death penalty if convicted of murder with intention.

Victim’s kindness ‘repaid in blood’: prosecution

With a wedding due, no savings and having lost his job, Ahmad Muin’s motive was purely monetary, the prosecution claimed.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal also painted the victim out to be someone who was kind to all her subordinates including the accused, whom she would buy food for and had lent money to on various occasions.

“The accused repaid her kindness in blood,” he said, adding that Ahmad Muin had “preyed upon a defenceless lady when the opportunity presented itself”.

The prosecution will be calling on a government psychiatrist who will testify that Ahmad Muin was not of unsound mind, nor did he have any mental illness, at the time of the crime.

In his statements to the police, Ahmad Muin claimed that just before the alleged killing, Maimunah had scolded him for being stupid and incompetent. She had also insulted his family, which caused him to lose his temper and assault her, he said.

Ahmad Muin’s lawyers, Hassan Esa Almenoar and Rajan Supramaniam, intend to call on a defence psychiatrist to testify that their client suffered from an abnormality of the mind, which substantially diminished his responsibility for his actions.

Accused’s financial woes

The court heard that Maimunah wore gold jewellery – including at least two gold necklaces, six gold rings, two gold bracelets and two gold anklets – every day.

In late October 2016, Ahmad Muin began working as a cleaner at TMFT while on a temporary work permit, earning about $1,100 per month.

He was due to be married back in Kelantan on 9 December that year and was supposed to return to Malaysia two weeks earlier to prepare for the wedding.

However, Ahmad Muin’s temporary work permit was cancelled in early November as part of his employer’s cost-cutting measures. He had been allowed to continue working at the TMFT until he found another job but was warned that he could not do so for long as his work permit had been terminated.

To mitigate his financial woes, Ahmad Muin allegedly borrowed money from Maimunah and other colleagues. He owed Maimunah $70 at the time of her death.

The day of the murder

At around noon on 24 November, Maimunah was seen heading to a storeroom at TMFT to have lunch. Shortly after, a colleague saw Ahmad Muin looking stressed and heading in the direction of the storeroom.

While the accused and victim were alone, Ahmad Muin allegedly thrusted the blade of the grass cutters into Maimunah’s chest, causing her to slump to the ground while gasping for air. She begged him not to kill her but he then bludgeoned her head with the grass cutters.

As Maimunah tried to get up, he then pushed her back down with his leg and continued hitting her head.

After the assault, Ahmad Muin took two gold necklaces and two gold bracelets that Maimunah had been wearing. He then removed the covers of a nearby drain, pushed Maimunah into it, then replaced the covers as he did not want her body to be found.

Ahman Muin then allegedly put the jewellery in his backpack, took Maimunah’s mobile phone and left the scene.

Pawned jewellery for dowry

At around 1pm Ahmad Muin boarded a taxi at TMFT and headed to the Woodlands Checkpoint. From there, he took a bus to Johor, where he allegedly sold one of the stolen bracelets for RM1,000 (S$330).

He then took a bus to Kelantan, arriving home in Pasir Puteh on 25 November. Along the way he discarded Maimunah’s SIM card and inserted his own into her mobile phone.

On 26 November, Ahmad Muin allegedly pawned Maimunah’s two necklaces along with two pendants and the remaining bracelet for RM7,500. He set aside RM6,000 as the dowry for his wedding and used some of the remaining money to gamble, the prosecution said.

Between 30 November and 1 December, Ahmad Muin sold his pawn ticket to another pawn shop for RM1,050. He used part of the money for his wedding expenses.

The Malaysian police contacted Ahmad Muin on 18 December and he was handed over to Singaporean police investigators the next day at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport Police Station. He was brought back to Singapore that day.

A forensic pathologist found that Maimunah died from bleeding due to a stab wound in her the neck along with a head injury. Both the stab wound and the head injury were capable, on their own, of causing death.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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