SINGAPORE - On his 38th birthday on Friday (Feb 3), policeman Iskandar Rahmat failed in his bid to escape the gallows for the 2013 Kovan double murder, after Singapore's highest court dismissed his appeal, rejecting his claim that he had acted in self-defence.
In rejecting his appeal, the Court of Appeal said Iskandar had intendedto kill both victims - car workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, 67, and his son Chee Heong, 42 - and found his account to be "incredible" and "unbelievable".
After hearing the verdict, 16 family members and friends of the accused, including his parents and sister, took turns to talk to Iskandar, who was in the dock. Some were seen crying. The family declined to speak to reporters.
The next-of-kin of the two victims were not in court.
The appeal verdict marks the end of the saga in terms of the court process. The next step would be to file a clemency petition to the President.
Iskandar was found guilty in December 2015 of killing the two men on July 10, 2013, at the older Tan's Hillside Drive house in Kovan.
Iskandar fled in the older victim's Toyota Camry. The son's body was caught under his father's car and was dragged for more than 1km, leaving a trail of blood as onlookers watched in shock.
Iskandar, who was saddled with debts and facing imminent bankruptcy, said during his trial that his plan was just to rob the older Mr Tan and then run off with his valuables.
He said that the older man had attacked him with a knife first and he reacted in self-defence. When the son stepped into the house, he charged and threw a punch, said Iskandar, so he retaliated.
Iskandar's account was rejected by the High Court at the end of his trial.
Justice Tay Yong Kwang, pointing to the number and severity of the wounds inflicted on the two victims - mainly in the vital areas of the head, neck and chest - ruled that Iskandar had attacked "cruelly and relentlessly with the clear intention of causing death".
The older victim suffered 27 stab and slash wounds and died from a slit throat. His son, who was found with 20 knife wounds, died from a stab to the neck that damaged three major blood vessels. Iskandar had relatively minor injuries on his hands.
In October last year, Iskandar appealed against his murder conviction, raising the same argument that the older victim had attacked him first.
His lawyer also tried to admit a forensic pathology report to support his contention that Iskandar suffered defensive injuries and a psychiatric report to show that Iskandar suffered from an acute stress reaction and an adjustment disorder at the time, which qualified him for a defence of diminished responsibility.
During the trial, the court heard that Iskandar, then a senior staff sergeant, learnt that the older victim kept a large amount of cash in a Certis Cisco safe deposit box, after Mr Tan lodged a police report about money being stolen from it.
In his plan to steal the remaining $600,000, Iskandar posed as an intelligence officer carrying out a sting operation to catch the thief.
He persuaded Mr Tan to take out all his valuables, on the pretext of putting a surveillance camera inside the safe deposit box. He then offered to escort Mr Tan to his three-storey terrace house.
Iskandar claimed that at the house, Mr Tan realised he was being tricked, became angry and attacked him with a knife. He said he wrested the knife from Mr Tan and slashed him in self- defence.