Just 21/2 hours after allegedly stabbing a father and son to death, Kovan double-murder suspect Iskandar Rahmat texted his superior officer in the police not to confess, but to apply for urgent leave.
Two days later, and an hour before being arrested at a Johor Baru eatery, Senior Staff Sergeant Iskandar again messaged his superior to say he had "run off" to Malaysia because of his financial problems and wanted to quit the police force.
This was revealed yesterday in Iskandar's trial, in which he has to answer charges that he murdered car workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, 67, and his son Chee Heong, 42, on July 10, 2013, during a bid to rob the former at his Hillside Drive house.
Taking the stand yesterday was his superior, Senior Station Inspector Nurussufyan Ali, who heads a team of 35 at the Bedok Police Division. He told the High Court he was "shocked" when he learnt that his subordinate of six months had been arrested for murder. "I did recall that there was an alert of a possible hit-and-run accident at Kovan, but I did not suspect at that point in time that it was a murder," he said.
After allegedly stabbing and slashing both men, Iskandar fled the scene in the older man's Toyota Camry, dragging the son's body under the car for a kilometre until it was dislodged outside Kovan MRT station.
Senior Station Insp Nurussufyan said Iskandar was posted to his team from the investigation branch in January 2013, when he came under scrutiny for chalking up debt of more than three times his salary. But his performance was not affected by the disciplinary proceedings, he added. Senior Station Insp Nurussufyan said Iskandar was a good worker, efficient and knowledgeable, and he seemed confident of clearing his debt, saying he would get money from his cousin. The court has been told that no such cousin exists.
On the day of the killings, Iskandar was supposed to be on the night shift, but at 5.59pm, he asked for urgent leave to meet his cousin. Senior Station Insp Nurussufyan approved the request and told Iskandar to keep him updated.
At 10.17pm, Iskandar told him he was "still talking". He fled to JB on his scooter at about 11pm.
At 8.49pm on July 12, Iskandar contacted his superior through WhatsApp and said he had fled to Malaysia because he knew he would be made a bankrupt. Iskandar also wanted to resign from the force, despite attempts by Senior Station Insp Nurussufyan to talk him out of it.
Also taking the stand yesterday was forensic odontologist Tan Peng Hui, an expert on teeth marks.
Iskandar claimed that the elder Mr Tan had attacked him with a knife and bitten him during a struggle. Dr Tan, who had examined Iskandar's left palm for bite marks on the day after his arrest, categorically stated that the superficial injury on his hand was not a bite mark.
That prompted defence lawyer Shashi Nathan to suggest the possibility that the wound could have healed. But Dr Tan rejected this: "Even with healing, you will see the formation of the scar, you will see physical evidence of teeth marks."
The trial, which continues today, is expected to be over sooner than next year - when it was originally scheduled to run till. This is because the defence is not disputing the testimonies of many of the prosecution witnesses, who no longer have to be called to the stand.
The court heard yesterday that the prosecution, which has called 15 witnesses, has just two more lined up.