6 years' jail, caning for man who assaulted inmate at Changi Prison Complex, causing brain injuries

SINGAPORE – He was sentenced to a minimum of a year’s reformative training last year for offences including drug consumption and loan shark-related crimes.

Offenders in reformative training are detained in a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.

Despite this, Muhammad Rahmat Abu Bakar, now 22, will not be released back into society any time soon after he took part in a brutal attack on an inmate at Changi Prison Complex on Sept 17 last year, causing the victim to suffer serious head injuries, including a fractured skull.

Rahmat, who appeared in court via video link, was on Monday (Nov 22) sentenced to six years’ jail and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane. He had pleaded guilty in September this year to voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Indarjeet Singh Gopal Singh, then 58.

Following the attack, Singh was assessed to require assistance in basic daily activities owing to severe cognitive impairment. His condition appears to have improved since then, the court heard.

Singh’s other assailant, Noor Awwalludeen Jamil, then 19, who had been convicted of offences, including taking part in the attack and drug-related crimes, was earlier sentenced to 9½ years’ jail with 11 strokes of the cane.

The two younger men had been earlier remanded at Changi Prison Complex for the preparation of their reformative training suitability reports shortly before the attack took place in September last year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norine Tan had said that Noor and Rahmat were cellmates, while Singh occupied another cell nearby.

Singh was unhappy with a group of younger inmates, including the pair, as they were generating “too much noise” from the cells some nights.

The DPP told the court: “He had approached them to request that they quieten down, to no avail. He took to shouting and scolding them from his cell whenever they made noise.

“Instead of quietening down, the younger inmates made more noise and shouted insults to taunt and mock the victim.”

According to court documents, Singh later wrote an abusive note to the younger inmates, insulting them and their mothers. As a result, the situation became more tense between the affected parties.

The younger inmates also blamed Singh for the revocation of their prison privileges as they assumed that he had complained to prison officers about the noise.

Some time in early September last year, some of the younger inmates – including Noor and Rahmat – and Singh agreed to a fight. The older man, however, failed to show up for it at least twice and seemed reluctant to fight.

On Sept 17 that year, the two youths and Singh were taken to a waiting room at a medical centre for their medical reviews.

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The DPP had said: “When Noor Awwalludeen and Rahmat saw the victim, they looked at each other because they knew that was their chance to beat up the victim.

“Rahmat decided that he would attack the victim and accept the consequences, even if a prison officer intervened.”

The two youths later rained blows on Singh, with most of their punches and kicks directed at the latter’s head and upper body.

The attack lasted for about 20 seconds before prison officers rushed into the room and intervened.

Singh, who fell unconscious, was taken to Changi General Hospital where he was found to have suffered severe head injuries. He also had fractures to his face, skull and upper right rib.

He had to spend almost a month in intensive care and was hospitalised until Nov 19 last year.

Singh was also diagnosed with cognitive impairment post-traumatic brain injury.

Even though his condition appears to have improved since then, the Institute of Mental Health does not rule out potential cognitive decline due to his head injury, craniectomy – a surgical procedure to remove part of his skull to relieve pressure in the affected area – and his history of heroin abuse.

In an earlier statement, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) said that Singh had been released on bail on Feb 27. By then, he was able to walk and move independently. SPS did not disclose details about why he had been remanded.

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It added: “Upon discharge from (hospital), he was kept under medical observation and for recovery at the Complex Medical Centre of Changi Prison Complex, where his condition was observed to be stable… Throughout, SPS was in contact with Mr Singh’s family and provided them with regular updates on Mr Singh’s medical condition.

“SPS is committed to the safe and secure custody of inmates, and the well-being of our inmates is of utmost importance. Inmates who commit serious offences whilst in prison custody will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.”

For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned.

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