Top para-athlete jailed for drug trafficking

Firdaus, who has won gold medals at the Asean Para Games, was found guilty of trafficking in methamphetamine. He also admitted to consuming the drug, saying it was to get in shape for the 8th Asean Para Games held here last December.
Firdaus, who has won gold medals at the Asean Para Games, was found guilty of trafficking in methamphetamine. He also admitted to consuming the drug, saying it was to get in shape for the 8th Asean Para Games held here last December.ST FILE PHOTO

Republic's fastest wheelchair sprinter gets 5-year term; he also pleaded guilty to taking drugs

The man known to be Singapore's fastest wheelchair sprinter was yesterday found guilty of trafficking the controlled drug methamphetamine and given the minimum jail sentence of five years.

Muhammad Firdaus Nordin, 28, a former Asean Para Games gold medallist, also pleaded guilty to a charge of taking the drug on Jan 31 last year, saying it was to get in shape for the 8th Asean Para Games held here last December.

He was jailed for 10 months on the consumption charge, but his two jail terms will run concurrently.

The prison sentence brings to a halt the para-athlete's remarkable sporting achievements.

When he was 13, Firdaus, who was born with spina bifida, raced in the National Junior Disabled Games in Australia in 2001, clinching a gold and two silver medals, and also breaking a Games record.

Four years later, in 2005, at the Third Asean Para Games in Manila in 2005, he won two golds, including for the men's 100m race, and a silver medal. He became famous by claiming top spot in the world for the century sprint event.

But earlier last year, on Feb 2, the police stopped a car driven by his cousin Hamza Jubir near Block 510, Bedok North Street 3. Firdaus was in the back seat, while Hamza's girlfriend was in the front.

A policeman found three packets tucked between Firdaus' groin and right thigh. Firdaus said they belonged to him and was arrested at about 5am. His urine tested positive for methamphetamine and the packets were found to contain 2.65g of the same drug.

Firdaus later told a Central Narcotics Bureau officer he had been selling the drug. He repeated this in three statements recorded on the day of his arrest and the next day.

But during his trial last month, he claimed the drugs had been found on the back seat. Firdaus also said Hamza's girlfriend had taken the drugs from the glove compartment and told him to put them on the seat. Firdaus also alleged that his admissions of guilt had been made because of threats from Hamza.

However, he said both in court and in his statements that he had taken methamphetamine to get in shape for the Asean Para Games.

The case was prosecuted by Ms Tan Yanying before District Judge Lee Poh Choo. Firdaus was defended by Mr Peter Fernando.

Judge Lee told Firdaus the trafficking charge has a mandatory minimum of five strokes of the cane and it was for the Prison Service to certify that he is unfit for caning.

Firdaus showed little expression, but his relatives wept when the sentence was passed. The judge allowed them to speak to him before he was led away in his wheelchair.

The penalty for trafficking methamphetamine is five to 20 years' jail, with five to 15 cane strokes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2016, with the headline 'Top para-athlete jailed for drug trafficking'. Print Edition | Subscribe