Two youths remanded at Changi Prison Complex assaulted inmate, causing brain injury

The assault took place on Sept 17 last year at Changi Prison Complex. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two young offenders were remanded at Changi Prison Complex for the preparation of their reformative training suitability reports when they assaulted an inmate, causing him serious head injuries including a fractured skull.

A district court heard on Friday (Sept 24) that following the attack, the victim, Indarjeet Singh Gopal Singh, 58, was assessed to require assistance in basic daily activities due to severe cognitive impairment.

His condition appears to have improved since then.

Before the attack, one of the youths, Noor Awwalludeen Jamil, 19, had earlier been convicted of crimes, including drug-related offences .

He was later convicted of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Singh and was sentenced to a total of 9½ years' jail with 11 strokes of the cane.

The assault took place on Sept 17, 2020.

A day before that, the second attacker, Muhammad Rahmat Abu Bakar, then 20, had pleaded guilty to drug consumption, as well as moneylending and traffic-related offences.

The Singaporean was sentenced to reformative training the following month.

Offenders in reformative training are detained in a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.

Rahmat, now 21, is still undergoing reformative training. He pleaded guilty on Friday to voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Singh at the Changi Prison Complex.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norine Tan said that at the time, Noor and Rahmat were cellmates, while Singh occupied another cell nearby.

Singh was unhappy with a group of younger inmates, including the pair, as they were generating "too much noise" in the cells on some nights.

The DPP added: "He had approached them to request that they quieten down, to no avail. He took to shouting and scolding them from his cell whenever they made noise.

"Instead of quietening down, the younger inmates made more noise and shouted insults to taunt and mock the victim."

The court heard that Singh later wrote an abusive note to the younger inmates, insulting them and their mothers. As a result, the situation became more tense between the affected parties.

The younger inmates also blamed Singh for the revocation of their prison privileges as they assumed that he had complained to prison officers about the noise.

Some time in early September last year, some of the younger inmates - including Noor and Rahmat - and Singh agreed to a fight. The older man, however, failed to show up for it at least twice and seemed reluctant to fight.

On Sept 17 that year, the two youths and Singh were taken to a waiting room at a medical centre for their medical reviews.

The DPP said: "When Noor Awwalludeen and Rahmat saw the victim, they looked at each other because they knew that was their chance to beat up the victim.

"Rahmat decided that he would attack the victim and accept the consequences, even if a prison officer intervened."

The two youths later rained blows on Singh, with most of their punches and kicks directed at the latter's head and upper body.

The attack lasted for about 20 seconds before prison officers rushed into the room and intervened.

Singh, who fell unconscious, was taken to Changi General Hospital where he was found to have suffered severe head injury. He had fractures to his face, skull and upper right rib.

He had to spend almost a month in intensive care and was hospitalised until Nov 19 last year.

Singh was also diagnosed with cognitive impairment post-traumatic brain injury.

Even though his condition appears to have improved since then, the Institute of Mental Health does not rule out potential cognitive decline due to his head injury, craniectomy - a surgical procedure to remove part of his skull to relieve pressure in the affected area - and his history of heroin abuse.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) said on Friday evening that Singh was released on bail on Feb 27 this year. By then, he was able to walk and move independently.

SPS did not disclose details about why he had been remanded.

It added: "Upon discharge from (hospital), he was kept under medical observation and for recovery at the Complex Medical Centre of Changi Prison Complex, where his condition was observed to be stable... Throughout, SPS was in contact with Mr Singh's family and provided them with regular updates on Mr Singh's medical condition.

"SPS is committed to the safe and secure custody of inmates, and the well-being of our inmates is of utmost importance. Inmates who commit serious offences whilst in prison custody will be dealt with to the full extent of the law."

Rahmat is expected to be sentenced on Nov 3.

For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.