Man fined $7,000 for impersonating narcotics officer

Court rejects prosecution's push for jail term, says facts and circumstances did not justify it

A court has ordered a man to be fined $7,000 for impersonating a narcotics officer, rejecting the prosecution's push for a jail term instead.

In noting it was not "a paltry sum and still has a deterrent effect", Magistrate Imran Abdul Hamid said the facts and circumstances of the case did not justify jail.

"I did not think the only way to deal with an offender in the accused's position, who commits a personation offence, thereby tarnishing the reputation of a law enforcement agency, is an inevitable custodial sentence," he added in judgment grounds issued last week.

JAIL NOT THE ONLY WAY

I did not think the only way to deal with an offender in the accused's position, who commits a personation offence, thereby tarnishing the reputation of a law enforcement agency, is an inevitable custodial sentence.

MAGISTRATE IMRAN ABDUL HAMID

Muhammad Taufiq Djumadi, 28, is the last of three to be sentenced. With Muhammad Farmi Sudin, 28, and Eunice Ng, 20, he impersonated a Central Narcotics Bureau officer at East Coast Park in May 2014.

The trio had demanded the particulars of four people, searched their belongings and attempted to seize a bottle of wine in their possession. The three had been at a chalet and had gone out at about 5am to buy cigarettes when, on the way back, they noticed the four victims lying under a shelter. Farmi, who slapped one of the victims when he refused to hand over his ID card, was sentenced to 10 weeks' jail and fined $1,000 last year for impersonating a CNB officer and for assault.

The judge noted that Taufiq intervened after Farmi assaulted the victim and the prosecution did not make him legally accountable for Farmi's assault on the victim.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Nim urged the court to consider jail as a starting point for Taufiq, given Farmi's 10-week sentence. He pressed for up to two weeks' jail, based on sentencing practices and past cases, pointing out that Taufiq had pretended to be a law enforcement officer, and other factors.

Taufiq's lawyer S. K. Kumar called for a fine, pointing out his minimal role and given his past clean record and good conduct in the two years since the offence.

He argued that Ng was given a warning and if sentencing parity was sought, focusing on Farmi's case and not hers "is not parity".

The judge clarified that the order in which offenders are charged and dealt with in court is "fortuitous". One being fined does not mean the second would receive the same as there are differences in the commission of the offence and the circumstances pertaining to the offender.

After due consideration, he added, it was "understandable" why Farmi was jailed 10 weeks. "I do not see (Taufiq) here in the same light as Farmi, especially since there are genuine points of differentiation between Farmi and Taufiq (even Eunice). Having assessed the role played by Taufiq, the fact that he is a first offender, I was satisfied there were relevant differences in the offenders' respective degrees of responsibility and/or respective personal circumstances, justifying a sentence of a fine, which could not be justified in Farmi's case."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'Man fined $7,000 for impersonating narcotics officer'. Print Edition | Subscribe