Rapist who defecated in High Court gets additional year's jail after being certified unfit for caning

COVID-19 precautionary measures being taken at the Supreme Court building on 26 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
COVID-19 precautionary measures being taken at the Supreme Court building on 26 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A convicted rapist who made headlines for defecating in a High Court dock received an additional year of jail in lieu of 24 strokes of the cane on Monday (20 July) after a medical officer certified him unfit for caning.

The added jail time comes on top of Isham Kayubi’s earlier 32-year sentence for raping and sexually assaulting two 14-year-old girls in 2017.

Isham was found unsuitable for caning due to age-related degeneration of his spine on 2 May this year, five days after his unsuccessful attempt to appeal against his conviction and sentence.

During the hearing on 27 April, Isham had sought to adjourn court proceedings by claiming that he needed a lawyer or else his sentence of 32 years’ jail would be “unfair”. He also alleged that he had been unable to get a lawyer due to the COVID-19 situation.

However, the Court of Appeal judges dismissed the request, describing Isham’s move as his last attempt to delay court proceedings. Isham turned 50 on 12 June, which would have made him ineligible for caning by then.

‘I will opt for caning’

During Monday’s court hearing, the prosecution sought to have an additional 12 months’ jail imposed on Isham given that he was not fit for caning. Isham, who represented himself, argued that it was not his fault he could not be caned.

Addressing Justice See Kee Oon via video link, Isham pleaded for leniency, stating that he would be 69 years old by the time he was released from his original sentence, taking into account a remission period for good behaviour.

“If 12 months is added, I would be 70 years old. It is not my fault that I can’t be caned... if I’m allowed to be caned I will opt for caning,” he said.

He had said in his submissions to the court that he did not know in advance that he would be unfit for caning due to medical reasons.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) James Chew reiterated the aggravating factors of Isham’s case, adding that the added jail time was required to compensate for “the lost deterrent and retributive effect of caning”.

“The need for deterrence in the present case is underscored by the numerous aggravating factors here: the young age and vulnerability of the two victims; the high level of premeditation demonstrated in commission of the offences; the use of threats of harm against both victims; his recording of the sexual assaults on his mobile phone; and his failure to use a condom when engaging in penile-vaginal intercourse with both victims,” said DPP Chew.

The court’s imposition of caning was “a clear and forceful expression” of the need for deterrence and the “lost effect of this message must be adequately compensated for,” said DPP Chew.

The prosecution added that there were no valid factors against the imposition of the additional jail time as Isham’s medical condition was not so severe as to serve as a ground for judicial mercy.

“The offences were very serious and the lost deterrent and retributive effect of caning would need to be adequately compensated,” said Justice See Kee Oon, who agreed with the prosecution.

Bizarre antics in court

Monday’s hearing marked an end to a case that has seen a string of bizarre actions from Isham.

In his first court appearance in August last year, Isham had urinated in the dock and flashed his genitals at Justice See. He was then remanded at the Institute of Mental Health but was later found to be of sound mind.

When he returned for his second court appearance on 14 January, Isham again delayed court proceedings by defecating in his prison attire. He then smeared his own faeces on the dock’s glass panel and his shirtfront.

Isham repeatedly requested for adjournments to engage lawyers after two of his Criminal Legal Aid Scheme-appointed counsels discharged themselves by end-2018. He also elected not to give his defence when called upon to do so. His behaviour prompted Justice See to warn him against malingering.

He was convicted after a trial and sentenced to 32 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane in February.

Isham sought to use the same excuse during his appeal hearing on 27 April, blaming the pandemic for not being able to engage a lawyer. However, Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Steven Chong, and Justice Quentin Loh saw the request as a final attempt to stall court proceedings and dismissed his appeal in the same sitting.

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