Car thief who snatched revolver and shot police officer sentenced to life imprisonment, 18 strokes

A man who snatched a police officer’s revolver and fired three rounds doing a scuffle at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital as he tried to escape from custody was jailed for life and given 18 strokes of the cane in the High Court on Monday (March 19).

Muhammad Iskandar Sa'at, 26, pleaded guilty to one charge of having a firearm under the Arms Offences Act in causing hurt to a public servant.

Three other charges were also considered during the sentencing, reports The Straits Times

The incident happened on June 20, 2015, at around 7pm.

Iskandar fired three shots at the officer, with two rounds penetrating the officer’s left thumb and right foot. 

He had been in remand for vehicle theft after being charged in the State Courts on the day of the incident.

Iskandar sought medical treatment and was escorted to the hospital by two officers. 

Justice Chan Seng Onn when delivering the sentence, said he agreed with the prosecution on the aggravating factors involved and stressed this was an extremely serious offence.

The court heard that Iskandar had first assaulted Staff Sergeant Muhammad Sadli Razali with an intravenous (IV) drip pole while he was receiving treatment in a room meant for patients under police custody. 

A scuffle ensued and Iskandar forcefully hit the officer at least 13 times with the police T-baton, before snatching the revolver and firing three shots. 

Deputy Public Prosecutors Kumaresan Gohulabalan and Kelly Ho said that Iskandar "went to extreme lengths to try to escape lawful custody” and

Staff Sgt Sadli was fortunate to have survived. 

Said the prosecution:

"It was fortuitous that Staff Sgt Sadli managed to pull the offender onto the ground to avert a potential tragedy.

“At least five other persons were in the room or near the room entrance when the offender had possession of the revolver and were thus in harm's way.”

Two paramedics attended to Staff Sgt Sadli, while three other uniformed officers arrived to help subdue Iskandar, effectively prying the weapon from his hand. 

Iskandar had been in a supine position on the floor when he fired the weapon.

At the time, the right hand holding the revolver had been pinned down by Staff Sgt Sadli. 

The prosecution pressed for a deterrent punishment, saying:

“The attack took place during visiting hours in a public hospital when there would invariably be significant human traffic. 

“Such an act of wanton violence in a public place necessarily raises public disquiet and necessitates a heavier sentence."

In Iskandar’s mitigation plea, his assigned lawyers, Shashi Nathan and Tania Chin from Withers KhattarWong, said that their client had struggled with drug addiction. 

He had injected himself with heroin, 27 hours before the incident and was struggling with acute withdrawal. 

Mr Nathan also added that his client had wanted to escape so he could explain himself to his girlfriend’s family and his parents. 

His girlfriend was also arrested for alleged theft at the time. 

Mr Nathan said that Iskandar had intended to use the revolver butt to hit Staff Sgt Sadli, and did not intend to aim the gun at anyone. 

He cited that both Iskandar and Staff Sgt Sadli fell to the ground during the scuffle, and one of the paramedics had placed a pillow over the gun. 

The rounds were fired with the pillow over it. 

Mr Nathan also said that Iskandar accepted full responsibility and made no excuses for his actions, deeply regretting his folly.

After the sentence was delivered, Iskandar broke down, while his family members showed relief. 

If convicted of discharging a firearm, he could have been given the death penalty.

Said Mr Nathan:

"His family and I are both deeply grateful to the prosecution for having carefully considered the circumstances and being fair in reducing the charge.”