12 years' preventive detention for recalcitrant offender who drugged multiple women before robbing them

SINGAPORE - A recalcitrant offender, who resumed his criminal ways shortly after undergoing six years of corrective training behind bars, was on Friday (Feb 14) slapped with 12 years' preventive detention to protect the public from him.

In 2011, Mohd Haslam Ismail was sentenced to six years' corrective training for drugging a woman before taking her valuables.

Shortly after his release in 2017, he robbed four different women after drugging them on different occasions in October 2018.

The 56-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty last month to two counts of robbery involving two women. He also admitted to one count of dishonest misappropriation of property.

Two robbery charges involving two other victims were considered during sentencing.

At around 6am on Oct 17, 2018, Haslam met a Vietnamese woman in an Orchard Towers club and they went to a hawker centre in Balestier.

Haslam then bought two cans of beer and offered one, which he had spiked with Midazolam, to the woman.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh said: "After drinking the beer bought by the accused, the victim felt dizzy. The next thing that the victim knew, she was alone in a room in Balestier Hotel, where she discovered some of her properties missing."

These included $920 in cash and a mobile phone. The woman alerted the police later that day, the court heard

Quoting a report from a Health Sciences Authority forensic scientist, DPP Koh said: "Midazolam is a sleep-inducing agent used to treat insomnia and to relieve anxiety before surgery or certain procedures. It is given to cause drowsiness, relieve anxiety, and prevent any memory of the event."

Haslam committed a similar offence six days later when he met a Chinese national near Sophia Road at around 9pm.

This time, he made off with valuables, including two mobile phones and $60 in cash.

The police were notified at around 1.40am on Oct 24, 2018, and officers arrested Haslam later that day at Sultan Plaza in Jalan Sultan near Beach Road.

Items that did not belong to him, such as a mobile phone and jewellery, were found in his possession. He also had with him some pink pills that contained Midazolam.

On Friday, defence lawyer Sunil Sudheesan, who represented Haslam pro bono, pleaded for a sentence of seven years' preventive detention.

He told the court that his client was "very sorry" for what he had done and wants to "come out a new man".

Offenders convicted of committing robbery between 7pm and 7am can be jailed for up to 14 years and receive at least 12 strokes of the cane.

Both corrective training and preventive detention are for repeat offenders. They do not offer the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.

Corrective training is usually imposed when the court finds that the offender needs to a substantial period of corrective training for reformation and the prevention of crime. The maximum period for corrective training is 14 years.

In preventive detention, a repeat offender aged over 30 receives a substantial period of imprisonment to protect the public. The detention order can last up to 20 years.

Haslam cannot be caned as he is more than 50 years old.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.