Illegal cigarette buyer who drove into officer while fleeing raid given probation

Muhammad Irfan Rukaimi was sentenced to 15 months' supervised probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service.
Muhammad Irfan Rukaimi was sentenced to 15 months' supervised probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - A young man who was trying to buy contraband cigarettes lost his nerve when he was stopped by Singapore Customs officers in a raid, and drove into an officer while attempting to flee.

Muhammad Irfan Rukaimi, 21, accelerated the car despite being surrounded by officers. He ended up crashing into one of them, causing the officer's kneecap to be broken in the resulting collision.

On Thursday (Jan 17), Irfan was sentenced to 15 months' supervised probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service.

He was also forbidden from driving any vehicle during this period, except when required to do so as part of his national service.

He was enlisted in May 2018 and is currently serving in the Singapore Armed Forces.

Irfan had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt by a rash act, and another count of obstructing a customs officer.

Court papers show that Irfan had driven to Sungei Kadut Avenue with his girlfriend on Nov 10, 2017, to buy cigarettes from illegal peddlers in the area.

However, he could not find the brand that he wanted. As he was driving off, a group of Customs officers appeared in front of his car.

They identified themselves as officials, and when Irfan stopped his car, they surrounded the vehicle.

But Irfan was worried that they might discover the contraband cigarettes on him that he had purchased earlier, and ignored their instructions to wind down his window for an inspection.

He sped off in his car and crashed into a 40-year-old officer who did not manage to jump out of the way.

Irfan then hit a bicycle parked by the side of the road before he fled the scene in his car with his girlfriend.

During his sentencing on Thursday, District Judge Ong Chin Rhu told Irfan, who was found suitable for probation, that the incident was a very costly lesson.

The cost was not borne by him personally but by the injured officer, and Irfan's parents, who have had to worry about him, she said.

"In terms of cost, he (the officer) paid for it; there is pain and suffering," added the district judge.

"I hope you appreciate this and make something good out of this episode."

She also said she hoped he would learn from this and appreciate the chance given to him.

"One wrong decision could cost other people a high price."

For causing grievous hurt by a rash act, he could have been jailed for up to four years and fined up to $10,000.

For obstructing a customs officer, he could have been jailed for 18 months and fined up to $10,000.