Kovan double murder trial: Cop accused of stabbing duo with intention to kill during robbery

Police officers guarding a tent where the body of Mr Tan Chee Heong lay outside Kovan MRT station on July 10, 2013. People driving along Upper Serangoon Road that day were shocked to see the body dragged under a car for a kilometre before it was disl
Police officers guarding a tent where the body of Mr Tan Chee Heong lay outside Kovan MRT station on July 10, 2013. People driving along Upper Serangoon Road that day were shocked to see the body dragged under a car for a kilometre before it was dislodged outside the MRT station.ST FILE PHOTO

But defence lawyers in Kovan double murder trial say it was a case of 'theft that went wrong'

Facing imminent bankruptcy, Iskandar Rahmat hatched a plot to rob a man he knew had a lot of money in a safe deposit box.

The attempt ended with the cop ruthlessly stabbing a 67-year-old car workshop owner 20 times before turning the knife on the man's 42-year-old son - with intention to kill both. This was how the prosecution opened its case against 36-year-old Iskandar, who is on trial for the gruesome Kovan double murder of two years ago.

But while Iskandar has admitted to stabbing the father and son, his lawyers are contending that he never intended to kill the duo, arguing that he was unarmed before being attacked by a knife-wielding Mr Tan Boon Sin. It was a case of a "theft that went wrong", lead defence lawyer Shashi Nathan later told the media.

 
 
 

On July 10, 2013, people driving along Upper Serangoon Road were shocked to see the body of a man dragged under a car for a kilometre before it was dislodged outside the Kovan MRT station.

The body was that of Mr Tan Chee Heong, and the trail of blood led to his father's body at his three-storey Hillside Drive house.

In a packed courtroom, Deputy Public Prosecutor Lau Wing Yum yesterday alleged that Iskandar wanted to rob Mr Tan to stave off bankruptcy and a possible sacking from the police force.

Iskandar, then a senior staff sergeant attached to the Bedok Police Division, was facing money problems which started after his divorce in 2005. He owed OCBC Bank more than $60,000 even after his flat and car were sold. The bank filed a bankruptcy petition against him in 2012.

On July 3, 2013, he was told that he would be disciplined for financial embarrassment, which could lead to a dismissal. Iskandar assured his superiors that he would get money from a cousin - who did not exist - to settle his debts. Later that day, he offered to pay OCBC a settlement of $50,000 by July 10, 2013, the date of the murders. At the time, he had less than $400 in cash.

To "stave off his dire personal predicament", Iskandar decided to rob the older Mr Tan, who had lodged police reports in November 2012 over the theft of money from his safe deposit box, alleged the DPP.

He believed that the money that remained in the safe deposit box was sufficient for him to repay his debts to OCBC. Investigating officer Daniel Wong told the court that $35,000 was reported stolen but Mr Tan had more than $200,000 left in the box - information that Iskandar failed to divulge to his co-investigators.

Iskandar then planned to pose as a police officer from the intelligence division and tell Mr Tan that his safe deposit box was going to be broken into. The charade included him cutting one end of a earphone to combine it with his wristlet to make it seem like he was using a walkie-talkie, as well as renting a car to appear more professional.

He modified a dummy CCTV camera from his home. The plot was to get Mr Tan to remove his valuables from the box at Certis Cisco by 3pm that day and replace them with the camera. He would then escort Mr Tan home to get close to the valuables.

Once at the home, Iskandar repeatedly stabbed Mr Tan, then his son when he stepped into the house. The son was left with more than 11 wounds to his scalp, face and neck.

Both men died as a result of the knife injuries. As he fled, Iskandar reversed the older man's silver Toyota Camry over his son.

But in his statements to police investigators, Iskandar said the senior Mr Tan had threatened him with a knife and in the ensuing struggle, Iskandar ended up stabbing him. Healso told investigators that when the younger man charged towards him, he also ended up stabbing him. He added that he threw the knife and his blood-stained clothes into a canal. The knife was never recovered.

The trial resumes tomorow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Cop accused of stabbing duo with intention to kill during robbery'. Print Edition | Subscribe