Killer's bid to get death sentence quashed fails

Ms Jumai Kho (far left) and Madam Lenduk Baling, the sister and mother of convicted murderer Jabing Kho (above) respectively, leaving the Supreme Court yesterday after the attempt to reopen his case and quash his death sentence was dismissed.
Ms Jumai Kho and Madam Lenduk Baling, the sister and mother of convicted murderer Jabing Kho (above) respectively, leaving the Supreme Court yesterday after the attempt to reopen his case and quash his death sentence was dismissed.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Ms Jumai Kho (far left) and Madam Lenduk Baling, the sister and mother of convicted murderer Jabing Kho (above) respectively, leaving the Supreme Court yesterday after the attempt to reopen his case and quash his death sentence was dismissed.
Ms Jumai Kho (left) and Madam Lenduk Baling, the sister and mother of convicted murderer Jabing Kho respectively, leaving the Supreme Court yesterday after the attempt to reopen his case and quash his death sentence was dismissed.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Apex court unanimous in throwing out his 'misconceived' attempt to reopen the case

Convicted murderer Jabing Kho's eleventh-hour court bid to reopen his case and quash his death sentence, which he made last year less than 24 hours before he was due to hang, has failed.

A five-judge Court of Appeal - the same panel that gave a 3-2 split decision last year in favour of sending him to the gallows - was yesterday unanimous in throwing out the Malaysian's attempt to escape the sentence.

In dismissing Kho's bid, the court said it was "misconceived in principle" and "an attempt to re-litigate a matter which had already been fully argued and thoroughly considered".

The court held that its power to reopen a concluded criminal appeal is to be exercised sparingly, and only in exceptional circumstances where there is new and compelling material on which it can say that there has been a miscarriage of justice.

In Kho's case, there was "very little in the way of new material, let alone material which is compelling and which justifies the exceptional recourse of a review".

The 31-year-old from Sarawak was calm on hearing the decision but his mother and sister, who came to Singapore for the verdict, sobbed uncontrollably as they talked to him before he was led away by guards.

In 2008, Kho bludgeoned Chinese national Cao Ruyin, 40, with a tree branch while robbing him, together with an accomplice, near Geylang Drive. Mr Cao, who suffered multiple skull fractures, died from his injuries six days later.

Kho's fate has seen many twists and turns since he and his accomplice were given the death penalty - then mandatory for murder - in 2010.

The accomplice, who used his belt buckle as a weapon, escaped the gallows in 2011 after successfully appealing for his charge to be reduced to robbery with hurt.

Kho's appeal failed. But he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment and caning by the High Court in 2013, after the law was changed to give judges the discretion to opt for a life term for murder with no intention to cause death.

But the prosecution appealed, arguing that Kho's vicious crime warranted the death penalty.

In January last year, the five-judge appeal court gave a 3-2 decision to send Kho to the gallows.

Two days before he was due to be hanged on Nov 6 last year, after his appeal for clemency was rejected by the President, he filed an application to quash the death sentence.

The case was heard on an urgent basis the next day, during which lawyer Chandra Mohan K. Nair got a temporary stay of execution so that he could prepare his case. The arguments were heard on Nov 23.

Yesterday, Kho's family members, who were accompanied by activists from local anti-death penalty group, We Believe in Second Chances, declined to be interviewed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Killer's bid to get death sentence quashed fails'. Print Edition | Subscribe