Grab driver given 22 months' jail for drug and moneylending offences

SINGAPORE - A dispute after an accident landed a 50-year-old man in jail, when a small bag of powder containing methamphetamine fell out of his pocket during the argument.

While on bail, Zulkhairi Amran sank further into crime by working for an unlicensed moneylender to pay the rent on the car he used as a Grab driver.

On Monday (May 21), he was sentenced to 22 months' jail for six charges including drug and moneylending-related harassment offences.

He was also fined $2,000 and disqualified from driving for a year. Another seven charges of drug, harassment and road-related offences were taken into consideration.

The court heard that on Oct 9 2017, Zulkhairi got into a verbal dispute with one Mr Pasila Mohammed Ameer Ali as his car was parked in front of Zulkhairi's in Lorong 8 Geylang, and blocked part of the alley the cars were in.

In attempting to leave the place, he collided with Mr Pasila's car.

Court documents did not say what happened next but Zulkhairi was arrested for dangerous driving. A subsequent search of the vicinity turned up a packet of powdery substance, later determined to be methamphetamine. It had fallen out of his pocket during the argument.

His urine samples also tested positive for the substance.

He admitted that he had consumed 'sejuk' (Malay for cold), a street name for methamphetamine, that same morning.

He did so by using an improvised smoking utensil. He added that he had been regularly consuming 'sejuk' since March 2017 to "remain alert while he was driving".

While on bail for his driving and drug offences, he worked as a Grab driver but struggled to pay the rent for the car.

He sought to borrow money online and was contacted by a loanshark who offered him a job splashing paint, writing harassment words, pouring kerosene and placing bicycle locks on flats at a rate of $150 per unit.

He took the job.

On Nov 20 and 21 last year, he was provided with locations and drove there to carry out the acts which he filmed for the loanshark. The victims noticed the strong smell of kerosene and reported the incidents to the police.

He was arrested on Nov 22 and admitted to being behind the incidents.

On Monday, he was also sentenced for an unrelated road offence that took place in February last year. He was driving a taxi when he failed to stop in time for a red light and collided into the rear of a motorcycle. The motorcyclist suffered a swollen left knee and abrasions to his palm.

In sentencing him, District Judge Marvin Bay said: "The use of kerosene is plainly an aggravating factor.

"A stray spark or lit match could have caused extensive damage to property and potentially harm occupants of the unit and possibly their hapless neighbours."

Although harassment on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender calls for a minimum of three strokes per charge, Zulkhairi is above 50 and will not be caned. He was given an additional twelve weeks' jail in lieu of caning.

He could have received up to five years' in jail and $50,000 in fines for harassment on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender.