Drug abuser in Singapore gets five years in jail and six strokes of the cane for drug offences and holding toddler hostage
Suspect took meth and locked himself in an apartment with the two-year-old boy for 17 hours
By Faris Mokhtar
A drug abuser who kidnapped and held his girlfriend’s two-year-old son hostage for 17 hours in 2016 was sentenced to five years’ jail and six strokes of the cane on Tuesday (March 20).
Muhammad Iskandah Suhaimi, 40, was convicted of four charges last year for kidnapping the toddler, possessing and consuming methamphetamine, as well as for illegally possessing a knuckleduster.
The court heard that at about 4pm on September 27, 2016, just seconds after his girlfriend stepped out of their rental flat with her toddler in tow to purchase cigarettes, Iskandah suddenly pulled the boy back into the flat, locked the main gate, and held him hostage for 20 hours.
Both Iskandah and his girlfriend — who could not be named due to a court order to protect the child’s identity — were then staying at a rental home.
His girlfriend was unable to unlock the gate as Iskandah had taken her house keys away from her several weeks before the incident.
For over two hours, the girlfriend and her mother — whom she had brought in for assistance — pleaded with Iskandah to release the boy. But he replied he would do so only in exchange for his girlfriend.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Stephanie Koh said the girlfriend rejected the request as he had a “history of violence towards her”.
And failing to persuade him, the girlfriend called the police.
Distraught and fearing for her son’s safety, she told the police that Iskandah had consumed methamphetamine, or crystal meth, earlier that morning, and that they had relationship problems.
She also said that he had hit her before and “was known to carry a knuckleduster with him”, the DPP told the court.
A 17-hour stand-off with police ensued, which saw negotiators from the Crisis Negotiation Unit as well as other contingency forces activated.
A police cordon was set up four floors above and below the unit as well as in the car park of the block, while the Singapore Civil Defence Force were activated to deploy an airbag and ambulance.
Appearing “aggressive, impatient and highly agitated” during the prolonged negotiation, Iskandah repeatedly turned down requests to release the boy.
The man, who was seen holding a bong and smoking crystal meth at one point, also “adamantly refused to state why he did not want to release the victim or what his intentions were,” said Ms Koh.
Mother and son were reunited after officers from the Special Operations Command broke into the unit through the window and the front gate, while Iskandah was in the toilet.
Throughout the stand-off which lasted from about 7pm to 12pm the next day, Iskandah had stayed close to the boy and “did not let him out of his sight”. The toddler was seen sleeping during most of the negotiation process.
After he was apprehended, Iskandah said he did not allow the boy to leave the flat as he thought that his girlfriend would report him to the police for consuming drugs if she had taken the boy with her.
The DPP said he “felt that by keeping the victim as collateral in the unit with him”, his girlfriend could not “get rid” of him by informing the police of his drug use.
As officers searched his unit, they found a knuckleduster — which he bought a few years ago and would carry in his jeans whenever he went out — as well as a pack of methamphetamine.
Urging the court to impose five-year jail sentence and six strokes of the cane, Ms Koh said that multiple psychiatrist reports from the Institute of Mental Health noted that Iskandah suffers from schizophrenia.
She added that the reports also showed that he was “well aware of the wrongfulness of his actions and was in full control of his faculties”, and that he knew his actions of keeping the boy away from his mother were unlawful since he is not the boy’s legal guardian.
“It is plain that, despite his psychiatric condition, the accused was able to make calculated and deliberate decisions that led to his offending acts. He was also able to give relevant responses to explain his conduct, for instance, in explaining his possession of the knuckle duster,” Ms Koh said, adding that little or no mitigating weight should therefore be given to his psychiatric condition.
Pleading his own case, Iskandah — who was unrepresented — told the court to show leniency as he has to care for his mother, who recently had both her legs amputated. He did not elaborate on this in court.