Singapore

Probation for illegal cigarette buyer who drove into Customs officer

A man who was trying to buy contraband cigarettes lost his nerve when he was stopped by Singapore Customs officers in a raid and drove into an officer while attempting to flee.

Muhammad Irfan Rukaimi, 21, accelerated the car despite being surrounded by officers. He ended up crashing into one of them, causing the officer's kneecap to be broken in the resulting collision.

Yesterday, Irfan was sentenced to 15 months' supervised probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service. He was also forbidden from driving any vehicle during this period, except when required to do so as part of his national service.

He was enlisted in May last year and is serving in the Singapore Armed Forces.

Irfan had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt by a rash act, and another count of obstructing a customs officer.

Court papers showed Irfan had driven to Sungei Kadut Avenue with his girlfriend on Nov 10, 2017, to buy cigarettes from illegal peddlers.

But he could not find the brand that he wanted. As he was driving off, a group of Customs officers appeared in front of his car.

They identified themselves as officials and when Irfan stopped his car, they surrounded the vehicle.

But Irfan was worried they might discover the contraband cigarettes he had bought earlier and ignored their instructions to wind down his window for an inspection.

He sped off in his car and crashed into a 40-year-old officer who did not manage to jump out of the way.

Irfan then hit a bicycle parked by the side of the road before he fled the scene in his car with his girlfriend.

During sentencing, District Judge Ong Chin Rhu told Irfan, who was found suitable for probation, that the incident was a costly lesson.

For causing grievous hurt by a rash act, he could have been jailed for up to four years and fined up to $10,000.

For obstructing a customs officer, he could have been jailed for 18 months and fined up to $10,000.

COURT & CRIME