VIOLENT: Muhammad Fazil Salleh attacked Puspanathan Ramachandran over an extra banana. ST FILE PHOTO

Inmate gets extra jail time for fighting over banana

Fight over extra banana at lunch gets physical

The quarrel was over an extra banana, but it was enough to send Muhammad Fazil Salleh into a frenzy.

The inmate, who was serving a one-month jail sentence for theft at Admiralty West Prison, attacked a fellow inmate, leaving the latter with a fractured jaw, nasal bone and left eye-socket, and damage to his teeth.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur yesterday sentenced Fazil, 38, to three years' jail, 59 days' enhanced imprisonment and six strokes of the cane.

This was for the prison attack on April 3 last year and for another offence of stealing shaving blades from an NTUC FairPrice supermarket last September while under remission order. A third charge of theft, committed last November, was taken into consideration.

Yesterday, the court heard how Fazil had a verbal dispute with Puspanathan Ramachandran, 33, when the latter took an extra banana at lunch.

It turned physical when Fazil slapped Puspanathan and kneed him in the chest, causing him to fall.

While his victim was on the ground, Fazil kneed him again, this time on the face.

The injured man was taken to Changi General Hospital, where he underwent surgery to mend damage to his eye socket, nasal bone and jaw.

He was discharged six days later, on April 9, and put on hospitalisation leave for almost two months.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Nim said that in view of Fazil's "persistent and habitual offending", he recommended that both sentences run consecutively.

He mentioned how in March 1999, Fazil was convicted of a similar offence of voluntarily causing grievous hurt.

On his latest attack, Mr Nim said: "The accused's culpability is significant in persisting with his attack even after the victim had fallen to the ground.

"The attack was vicious, especially since the victim took no steps to retaliate."

CONTEMPT

Fazil's assault in a custodial setting had also demonstrated "contempt for the aims of punishment that his sentence was meant to encompass", added Mr Nim.

Defence lawyer James Ow Yong told the court that Fazil had taken sleeping pills on the day he stole the shaving blades. He was also distressed after his divorce and had fallen into depression.

Referring to the prison attack, Mr Ow Yong said: "The accused regrets his reaction to the situation.

"But the accused realises his mistake and promises never to act in such a manner again."

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