Angered that disciplinary action would be taken against him, an inmate attacked a prisons officer, punching and kicking him repeatedly even after the officer had fallen to the ground.
At the State Courts on Tuesday (9 January), Mohamad Farhan Tajuddin, 27, was jailed five years and seven months and given three strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to causing hurt to deter a public servant. He also pleaded guilty to four other charges of criminal intimidation, failing to report for a urine test, possession of a knife and drug consumption.
According to court papers, Farhan had been in remand at Changi Prison when the assault took place on 8 December 2016. At about 3pm that day, Farhan – who was housed in cell 415 – had gone over to cell 416 to speak with another inmate and opened the latch to the other cell’s door. He was not supposed to leave his cell while another inmate was being transferred to his cell.
Prisons officer Sergeant Pouminathan Mayalagu, 55, saw what Farhan had done and warned him that he would be disciplined for his actions.
Farhan tried to negotiate with Pouminathan, telling that latter that this was a small matter, but was ignored.
Pouminathan returned at about 5.15pm to distribute medication to some inmates. As he approached Farhan’s cell, the inmate punched his face and kicked him on his body and legs.
Farhan continued the assault even after Pouminathan had fallen to ground, where he laid motionless. He stopped only after other inmates pulled him away. The entire incident was caught on the facility’s closed-circuit television cameras.
Pouminathan sustained swelling on his neck as well as tenderness on his head, left shoulder, left knee and left ankle. He was given seven days of medical leave.
In an earlier incident on 25 September 2016, Farhan challenged a 15-year-old boy to a fight and placed a 45cm parang at the boy’s neck. The teenager was not harmed in the incident.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kavita Uthrapathy sought a term of five years and seven months’ jail along with three strokes of the cane for all the charges.
She pointed out that the assault was committed in the corridor of a prison. The number of prisoners “grossly outnumbered” prison personnel and the situation could have escalated very quickly, she said.
DPP Kavita said Farhan was motivated by revenge and that his actions could have diminished the standing of prisons officers. Pouminathan also had no means of escape and the attack was, “completely unprovoked” as well as “persistent and sustained”, said Kavita.
Pointing out Farhan’s previous conviction, in which he was jailed six weeks for using criminal force on a public servant, the DPP said Farhan was “recalcitrant” and “has no respect for authority”.
Caning was warranted on the basis that the attack involved a high degree of brutality and pre-meditation, said Kavita.
Farhan’s lawyer Alice Tan, who was assigned by the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, asked for a total jail term of five years and for caning to be decided by the court. Tan pointed out that Farhan’s last conviction for violent crime was in 2012 and that he had steered clear of such crimes for five years.
Tan also asked for leniency, saying that Farhan, who used to work as a mover, was willing to seek treatment to help with his anger management after his release from prison.
District Judge Diana Haven Ho agreed with the prosecution and sentenced Farhan to five years and seven months’ jail and three strokes of the cane. She backdated the sentence to 11 November 2016 when Farhan was remanded.
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