Inmate who spat on warden gets 9 weeks' jail

Man who abused public servant on day of release among trio who had jail terms raised

On the day he was scheduled to be released from jail after 12 years, an inmate verbally abused and spat on a prison warden who told him that he was not allowed to take some documents out of prison.

For abusing the prison warden, Rasaruddin Abdul Rahaman, 57, was initially sentenced to two weeks' jail by a district court in July last year.

But yesterday, the High Court upped his sentence to nine weeks' jail following an appeal by the prosecution.

Rasaruddin showed no regard for authority and his actions were totally uncalled for, said Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang. The judge noted that he had abused and spat on the warden while "literally a step away from liberty".

Rasaruddin was one of three individuals convicted of using criminal force against public servants in unrelated incidents who had their sentences increased yesterday.

The prosecution argued that the original sentences in these cases were manifestly inadequate and out of line with sentencing norms.

Stephen Albert, 20, an Indonesian graduand who spat on a police officer escorting him home while he was inebriated, had his original two-week jail term doubled to four weeks. He was also fined $3,000 for hurling racist remarks at the officer but the prosecution did not appeal against the fine.

Benjamin Neo Rong Hao, 33, an operations manager at the St James Power Station club who pushed a female plainclothes police officer in the chest in June 2016, will now have to serve five weeks' jail instead of two weeks. Neo, who was intoxicated, pushed the police sergeant despite being reminded by his friends that she was a police officer.

In the case of Rasaruddin, the court heard that he was scheduled to be released from prison on March 6 last year after completing a 12-year term of preventive detention, a regime for recalcitrant offenders. He had spent a substantial part of his life behind bars.

The warden who was handling the administrative procedures for his release found medical documents and a draft letter in his possession and told him that he could not take them along.

Rasaruddin was unhappy and refused to comply but another prison officer took the documents away. As he was being escorted out, Rasaruddin uttered abusive words at the warden and spat on his face and neck.

He was initially sentenced to a week's jail for the verbal abuse and two weeks' jail for spitting at the warden. The sentences were to run concurrently.

The prosecution appealed only against the sentence for the spitting charge, which was increased to eight weeks yesterday. The eight-week term was ordered to run consecutively with the one-week term for verbal abuse, making a total of nine weeks' jail for Rasaruddin.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2018, with the headline 'Inmate who spat on warden gets 9 weeks' jail'. Print Edition | Subscribe