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The Straits Times
Oct 14, 2022
When their friend, Ms Felicia Teo, died in June 2007 after all three had allegedly consumed Ecstasy, the two men stuffed her body into a carton box.
The duo then took the box to a deserted location at Punggol Track 24, dug a hole which they put the box in, and burned the box before covering it up.
On Friday, Ahmad Danial Mohamed Rafa'ee, 37, was sentenced to 26 months' jail after admitting to four charges.
They included for unlawfully depositing Ms Teo's corpse in a public place, dishonest misappropriation of her possessions, giving false evidence to two police officers, and fabricating false evidence.
Two other charges of giving false information and withholding information from a public servant were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Ahmad’s accomplice, Indonesian Ragil Putra Setia Sukmarahjana, remains at large.
The court heard that Ahmad is expected to be released soon, as the sentence was backdated to when he was arrested on Dec 15, 2020.
He was remanded for 18 months and 12 days till June 27, after which he was released on bail.
Offenders may be released on remission after serving two-thirds of their sentence.
Ahmad is expected to be released almost immediately, as his period of remand exceeds two-thirds of his sentence.
In the early morning of June 30, 2007, Ahmad, who was then a 22-year-old graphic designer, and Indonesian Mr Ragil Putra Setia Sukmarahjana, then 18, and Ms Teo, then 19, had gone to the unit at Marine Terrace where Mr Ragil was staying after a party at Lasalle, where all three had studied.
Ahmad claimed that the three of them consumed Ecstasy inside the unit, and that Felicia died due to unknown circumstances sometime before 6am.
Ahmad and Mr Ragil then came up with a plan to dispose of Ms Teo’s body, as they did not want to get into trouble for drug consumption.
They placed her body on a mattress and covered it with another mattress before cleaning up the unit.
The duo then took her mobile phone to East Coast Park between 7.20am and 8.22am and left it there, to make it look like she had been to the park.
The phone was never recovered.
In the evening of that day, they went to hardware shops around Marine Terrace to buy tools to dispose of Ms Teo’s body.
They put her body into a carton box, sealed it with tape and brought it to the ground floor of the block via the stairs to avoid security cameras at the lift lobby.
The duo flagged a taxi and went to Punggol Track 24, where they dug a hole in the ground and placed the box within.
Then they poured kerosene on it and set it aflame.
After the fire died down, they covered the hole and left.
Ahmad gave Ms Teo’s Apple MacBook laptop to his father, and either gave away or sold her camera.
He also took two additional lenses for the camera that belonged to Ms Teo for himself.
The camera and one of the lenses were later recovered after Ahmad’s arrest in 2020, but were no longer in working condition. The MacBook and the other lens were never recovered.
Ms Teo’s mother made a police report on July 3, 2007, and Ahmad and Mr Ragil were questioned.
But during questioning on July 11 and 25 that year, Ahmad lied that he did not know where Ms Teo was.
On July 11, he claimed that Ms Teo had left the unit on the morning of June 30 after he told her she had “so many boyfriends”.
On July 25, he said that he had addressed her by her nickname "Kaya", remarking that she had “so many guys”.
He claimed that she had then stormed out with her white bag and laptop, but that there was no fight or quarrel.
The case was then classified by the police as a missing persons case.
Periodically from 2007 to 2020, the police had consistently reviewed the case and conducted immigration screenings, bank screenings, hospital checks and mortuary checks.
But none of the efforts yielded any results until a breakthrough in 2020, when the police conducted a fresh screening of Ms Teo’s laptop.
District Judge Toh Han Li had clarified with the prosecution that the laptop in question was the one that was never found.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yang Ziliang confirmed that it was that same laptop, revealing only that the screening was “done with details of the laptop” which was not physically in the possession of the police, but did not elaborate further.
The court heard that a partial human skull was found at Punggol Track 24 during excavation works in June 2010, but the identity of the skull was unknown at the time.
After Ahmad’s arrest in December 2020, screenings were conducted for skeletons found in the Punggol area and information about the skull came to the attention of the police.
DNA testing with reference to Felicia’s family members’ DNA established that the skull likely belonged to Ms Teo.
No other remains of Ms Teo were recovered, despite the police engaging experts to dig the ground in the vicinity of the area where her body had been disposed.
DPP Yang told the court that Ahmad and Mr Ragil’s lies had led to significant wastage of public resources, and led to Ms Teo’s family being kept in the dark for more than 13 years.
“The lies meant that Felicia’s family never found closure for so many years, and never found out about Felicia’s death until recently,” he said. “Till today, only her skull could be recovered.”
Ahmad’s lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, said in mitigation that the Ahmad then was not the Ahmad of today, and that he was a younger man whose main motivation for lying to the police was not to cover up a murder, but because he was fearful of being prosecuted for drugs offences.
Ahmad was initially accused of killing Ms Teo before being given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal for the murder charge in June this year.
Mr Nathan added that Ahmad was extremely cooperative with the police during the most recent investigations and was remorseful.
But DPP Yang said that it appeared he was only sorry he was caught.
In handing down the sentence, the judge said that Ahmad’s act had resulted in perversion of justice for over 13 years, and that the 26-month sentence was proportionate and would send a deterrent signal.