Life imprisonment for man who stabbed co-tenant to death in fit of rage

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
A man with a knife.
A man with a knife. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A man who stabbed his co-tenant fatally with a kitchen knife in their shared Teck Whye flat in 2017 was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday (13 January).

Mohammad Rosli Abdul Rahim, 51, stabbed 35-year-old Mohammad Roslan Zaini in the wee hours of 16 August 2017, plunging a knife with a 17cm blade into the victim's sternum. He was earlier found guilty of the charge of murder by intentionally causing bodily injury sufficient to cause death. 

Ahead of Rosli's sentencing, his original lawyers Anand Nalachandran and Adeline Goh discharged themselves, handing over the case to lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen, and Hamza Zafar Malik. 

Rosli's newly appointed lawyers will be filing an appeal against his conviction and sentence. 

His previous lawyers stated in his mitigation plea that life imprisonment was appropriate. They said that Rosli had an unhappy childhood as he was abused physically and emotionally by his mother until he was in his teens. His parents divorced when he was 13, after he exposed his mother's extramarital affairs, said the lawyers. 

Still yearning for his mother's love, Rosli reconnected with her in the later years, providing her allowance and money for medical treatment. His mother died while Rosli was in remand for the murder offence. 

Rosli married when he was 21 but divorced three years later due to his substance abuse. He has two children in their 20s from his marriage. 

In his trial last year, the court heard that the victim approached Rosli, then homeless, and suggested that he co-rent the flat. The two men had a friendly relationship, said the lawyers.

The men registered their names with the Housing and Development Board as co-tenants and agreed to split the monthly rent.

In August 2017, Rosli began to suspect that the victim was over-charging him for his share of the monthly rent. Around the same time, the victim also ended his romantic relationship with a married woman, whom Rosli had known for over 10 years and regarded as a sister. She complained to Rosli about the victim. 

On 16 August that year, three of the men's friends went to their home to watch a movie together at about 1am. One of the friends left an hour later.

At about 4am, Roslan began arguing with Rosli over payments for rent and utilities. He behaved aggressively towards Rosli, according to the defence lawyers. Rosli argued that he lost self-control after the victim uttered vulgarities insulting his mother. 

About half an hour later, Rosli took a knife from the kitchen and confronted Roslan in the living room. He stabbed Roslan on the chest, with the knife blade penetrating the victim's sternum.

Rosli then stabbed the victim two more times, in the right forearm and right thigh. The two friends still in the house witnessed the attack and fled, with one of them asking his sister to call the police.

Roslan struggled down four storeys of stairs and reached a grass patch in front of Block 165A Teck Whye Crescent before collapsing. A bus driver who was on her way to work saw Roslan covered in blood. Roslan coughed once before he became motionless and later died.

The police arrested Rosli almost six hours later at the void deck of Block 6 Teck Whye Avenue.

In his mitigation plea, Rosli's lawyers stated that the prosecution and defence psychiatrists assessed that Rosli was prone to impulsivity. The psychiatrists agreed that Rosli was sleep deprived at the time of the incident, which could have weakened his ability to retain self-control.

For murder by intentionally causing bodily injury sufficient to cause death, Rosli could have been sentenced to death, or life in jail. He cannot be caned as he is above 50. 

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