SINGAPORE — In a bid to protect his close friend, whose wife was threatened by a member of a rival gang, a man brought into Singapore a pistol and bullets he bought from Johor Bahru.
Muhammad Ikram Abdul Aziz had wanted to scare the rivals of his friend Amirul Asyraff Muhammad Junus, and to show them that Amirul could not be bullied.
The 26-year-old was jailed for seven years, 10 months and given six strokes of the cane on Monday (1 March), after the prosecution sought for a jail term of at least eight years with the same number of strokes of the cane as imposed.
Ikram, a food stall operator, pleaded guilty to one count under the Arms Offences Act for the unlawful possession of the bullets and Shooters Seahawk pistol, which is a .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol manufactured by an arms maker from the Philippines. He had the illicit weapon with him for seven months.
Amirul, 26, who has a pending charge of consorting with a person in an unlawful possession of an arm, has not been dealt with.
The two men were former schoolmates at ITE College West in 2012 and played football for the under-18 team of Tanjong Pagar United in 2012.
Some time in 2015, Ikram joined a secret society while Amirul joined in 2018. In January 2019, Amirul was informed that his ex-wife had been beaten up by a person known as “Faris” at a club in Marina Square. His ex-wife told him that Faris had declared he was from a rival gang.
After Amirul declared that he wanted to take revenge for his ex-wife, Ikram decided to buy a gun in order to scare the rival gang.
In February 2019, Ikram went to a tattoo shop in Johor Bahru and approached a man, known as “Boy JB”, to ask for a gun. He claimed he needed it for family matters.
A few days later, Boy JB called Ikram and said he could get a gun for $900. Ikram made a trip to Johor Bahru a few days later and saw several photos of revolvers. He handed $900 to Boy JB. He did not manage to get the gun that day.
Boy JB called Ikram a few days later to tell him that the revolvers were no longer available, and asked for $500 more to buy a hand gun. Ikram agreed and travelled to JB in a car with his parents in March 2019 to obtain the gun.
Ikram received the pistol and bullets from Boy JB. When Ikram said that he only wanted the pistol without the bullets, Boy JB replied that the two came together. Ikram did not dare decline as he was a foreigner. He paid Boy JB a tip and smuggled the weapon into Singapore the next day. He decided to bring the weapon in while with his parents as he noticed that customs officers seldom checked his belongings when he was travelling with his parents.
While in his room, he explored the pistol by removing its magazine, pulling the trigger and engaging the pistol’s safety lock. He bought a pair of hospital gloves to wrap the bullets. He also bought a holster for the weapon.
He showed the pistol to Amirul and asked if he wanted to bring the weapon home, but Amirul refused. Ikram said that he could not help Amirul as he had a young daughter, and that he lived too far away from Amirul. He also felt that Amirul should stand up for his ex-wife.
Sometime later, Amirul and his younger brother were assaulted by members of Faris’ gang.
When Amirul informed Ikram about the incidents, Ikram told Amirul that the gang members were "stepping on his head", said Deputy Public Prosecutors Norine Tan and Zhou Yang.
Ikram asked Amirul if he wanted him to bring the pistol for a settlement talk with the rival gang, including Faris, but Amirul declined the offer.
On 8 October 2019, Central Narcotics Bureau officers detained Ikram at a void deck in Jurong on suspicion of drug offences. They raided his house and found the glove containing one bullet in each of the four fingers.
Ikram later voluntarily surrendered a bag containing the pistol and its magazine, which was loaded with the other four bullets. The weapon was determined to be capable of being fired.
Neither the pistol nor the bullets had been brought out of Ikram’s flat from the time he bought them until his arrest.
In Ikram's sentencing, DPP Tan pointed out that the accused was not a first-time offender, as he had been convicted of unlawful assembly in 2013 and drug possession in 2016.
He had also been involved in secret societies since 2015 even after he was placed on probation for his 2013 offence.
The current offence was an escalation in his offending behaviour, said DPP Tan.
"It is not at all an exaggeration to say that there was a real danger that the pistol and bullets may be used, be it intentionally with premeditation or spontaneously in a chaotic or hot-blooded moment, if the dispute had escalated or if there were a confrontation between the two groups," the prosecutor said.
Ikram's lawyer, Ferlin Jayatissa, sought a jail term of six-and-a-half years, pointing out that Ikram had not sought to purchase the bullets with the pistol.
However, District Judge Teo Guan Kee said that while this might be the case, Ikram had taken further steps to bring them into Singapore. He noted that while there was no evidence that Ikram had intended to use it for himself, he had offered to let Amirul use it on at least two occasions and had tested out the features himself.
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