Iskandar's defence and what the judge said

Police searching in East Coast for evidence during investigations. An area outside the National Sailing Centre was cordoned off as well for the search, which lasted about five hours. Divers were also seen scouring the waters. Iskandar Rahmat had clai
Police searching in East Coast for evidence during investigations. An area outside the National Sailing Centre was cordoned off as well for the search, which lasted about five hours. Divers were also seen scouring the waters. Iskandar Rahmat had claimed that after killing both men, he threw the knife, with other items, into a canal at East Coast Park. It was never recovered.LIANHE WANBAO FILE PHOTO
Mr Tan Boon Sin (above), a car workshop owner and fishing enthusiast, was killed in 2013 at the age of 67. Justice Tay Yong Kwang said that given that Mr Tan was much older than Iskandar, who was 34 at the time, and due for a knee operation, he would
Mr Tan Boon Sin (above), a car workshop owner and fishing enthusiast, was killed in 2013 at the age of 67. Justice Tay Yong Kwang said that given that Mr Tan was much older than Iskandar, who was 34 at the time, and due for a knee operation, he would not have chosen to have a one-to-one fight with the policeman.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ALAN TAN
This silver Toyota Camry with the licence plate number SGM 14J was found abandoned at Eunos Avenue 7, with blood stains on the right headlight and the rear, on July 11, 2013. A day earlier, this car had dragged Mr Tan Chee Heong from his father's hom
This silver Toyota Camry with the licence plate number SGM 14J was found abandoned at Eunos Avenue 7, with blood stains on the right headlight and the rear, on July 11, 2013. A day earlier, this car had dragged Mr Tan Chee Heong from his father's home for over 1km before his body dislodged right outside Kovan MRT station. He was pronounced dead at the scene.TNP FILE PHOTO

The knife

Iskandar Rahmat claimed:

Iskandar said he was unarmed when he went to Mr Tan Boon Sin's house. While he was in the living room, Mr Tan emerged from the kitchen with a knife in his right hand. He managed to wrest the knife away and stabbed Mr Tan, who was tugging at him. After killing both men, he threw the knife, with other items, into a canal at East Coast Park. It was never recovered.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang found:

Iskandar had taken along a knife, which he hid from view. It had always been his plan to kill Mr Tan as he could not risk being identified.

After his arrest, Iskandar was able to sketch a picture of the knife for investigators, even though the knife would have been covered in blood after the stabbings and slashings.

He was able to recall that the knife had grooves and many small circles along its cutting edge.

The clear inference is that Iskandar had time to observe the knife before it became bloody in the continuous stream of events that day.

That could only happen if the knife was with Iskandar some time before the attacks.

When the knife in his drawing was referred to repeatedly during the trial as having a serrated or jagged edge, he did not voice any objection.

But when he took the stand, he said that he was describing a knife with a smooth cutting edge to the police.

Iskandar testified that the circles he drew represented actual circles that stretched from the "end of the knife to almost the tip of the knife", and which were darker in colour.

He said the blade was two-toned, matte along the edge and shiny elsewhere.

The accused was trying to modify his testimony about the knife after having heard the testimonies of Mr Tan's wife that she did not have any serrated knives in her kitchen and Mr Tan's fishing buddy that they did not use such knives for fishing.


'Mr Tan attacked me'

Iskandar Rahmat claimed:

Iskandar had posed as an intelligence officer trying to catch the culprit who stole from Mr Tan Boon Sin's safe deposit box. He duped Mr Tan into taking his money out from the box and replacing it with a fake closed-circuit TV camera. On his return to Mr Tan's house, the 67-year-old accused Iskandar of cheating him as they were no batteries in the camera.

Mr Tan flew into a rage and attacked him with a knife after finding out he had been tricked.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang found:

How did Mr Tan find out the camera was fake? He had dutifully placed the camera in the box as instructed, even after seeing that the battery compartment was empty, as it did not have a cover.

He either did not suspect anything or was satisfied by Iskandar's explanation that the camera did not need batteries. The safe-deposit box was not opened by anyone after Mr Tan put the camera inside.

It was suggested that Mr Tan could have become suspicious after he spoke to (his son) Chee Heong twice on the phone while Iskandar was in the house with him. But Chee Heong appeared normal when he left his office to go to his father's home.

And even if Mr Tan did find out that he had been duped, would he have immediately attacked Iskandar with a knife? Since Mr Tan supposedly held the knife in his right hand, it would have been difficult for him to use that hand to support himself as he went down the three steps from the dining room to the living room as the bannister was on his right. With his bad knees, he would not have been able to move quickly or take Iskandar by surprise such that he had no time to dodge the attack.

The complete change in Mr Tan's attitude was not consonant with the evidence. He had been a trusting and hospitable person from the time he met Iskandar.

Given that he was much older than Iskandar, who was 34 at the time, and due for a knee operation, he would not have chosen to have a one-to-one fight with Iskandar.


The getaway plan

Iskandar Rahmat claimed:

His plan was to grab the bag of money, make a quick run to Upper Serangoon Road, hail a taxi and ask the driver to take him somewhere near where his rented car was parked at the Eunos Industrial Park.

He believed Mr Tan would not be able to identify him - he was wearing sunglasses all the time, used a fake name and the victim was old.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang found:

Even though Iskandar wore sunglasses, the events took place in the middle of the day, not under the camouflage of darkness.

It would be foolhardy to assume that a 67-year-old with normal eyesight would not be able to identify him.

The victim would have been able to describe Iskandar's race, his approximate height and size, that he had claimed to be a police officer and that he knew about the police report Mr Tan had made about the theft from his safe deposit box.

As a former investigation officer, Iskandar must have known that, even if he succeeded in stealing the money, it would only be a matter of time before he was found out.

Iskandar's professed grab-and-run plan involved so many contingencies that only a very foolish prospective thief would adopt it.

There was every possibility that he would be seen by Mr Tan's neighbours during the 190m sprint to the main road. As he did not know that Mr Tan had knee problems, he ran the risk of Mr Tan chasing after him while shouting for help or going after him in his Toyota Camry.

Huffing and puffing, he must also be able to catch a taxi very quickly and avoid alerting the cabby that anything was wrong.

"The accused did not appear to me to be such a foolish person. He would not have come up with such an inane plan."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'The knife Iskandar's defence and what the judge said'. Print Edition | Subscribe