Victim tried to attack me with knife, says Kovan murder accused
On the sixth day of the Kovan double murder trial, accused killer Iskandar Rahmat took the stand to give his side of the story. ELIZABETH LAW (firstname.lastname@example.org) reports
Deep in debt and facing bankruptcy proceedings, he became desperate, so desperate he devised a plan to rob a motor workshop owner.
But on July 10, 2013, his encounter with Mr Tan Boon Sin at his Kovan home ended with the gory deaths of Mr Tan, 67, and his son, Mr Tan Chee Heong, 42.
This was what suspended police officer Iskandar Rahmat told the High Court as he began his defence yesterday for the murders of the father and son at 14J, Hillside Drive.
Mr Tan's body was found in the house, and his son's body was found nearly 1km away, outside the Kovan MRT station, after being dragged under his father's Toyota Camry that Iskandar had used to get away.
Iskandar testified that it was a robbery gone wrong and he had never intended to kill his victims.
After Mr Tan removed about $200,000 in cash and valuables from a safe-deposit box, Iskandar "escorted" Mr Tan back to his house.
Iskandar said he just wanted to grab the bag of money and valuables at the house and run for the main road to hail a taxi and flee.
But his plan began to unravel as soon they reached the house.
1. The plan
Some time in November 2012 while still an investigation officer, Iskandar Rahmat was assigned Mr Tan Boon Sin's case involving theft from his safety deposit box at Certis Cisco.
Following up on the case, Iskandar came to discover that Mr Tan had over $200,000 worth of valuables left in the box.
In July 2013,Iskandar hatched a plan to rob Mr Tan in a bid to pay off his debt.
On July 10, he pretended to be an officer from the Police Intelligence Division and told Mr Tan that his safe-deposit box was going to be broken into again.
He convinced Mr Tan to empty the box, taking the valuables home, and replacing them with a dummy close-circuit television camera.
Under the guise of escorting Mr Tan home, Iskandar planned to go with him so he could snatch the valuables and make a run for it.
Iskandar cut a mobile phone ear piece and wore a wristlet to make it seem like he had a communication device. He dressed like an investigation officer and even rented a car so he would seem professional, contacting Mr Tan from a coin phone to tell him about the potential "theft".
They arranged to meet at 2pm at a Shell petrol station on Paya Lebar Road, right next to the Certis Cisco building.
2. The deaths
Iskandar's plans quickly began to unravel the moment Mr Tan drove through the gates of 14J Hillside Drive.
After parking his car, Mr Tan shut the electronic gates behind him and invited Iskandar into his home.
Inside the house, the older man placed an orange bag next to other plastic bags below a flight of stairs. In a bid to make him reopen the gate, Iskandar said he wanted to go out for a cigarette and Mr Tan agreed.
When Iskandar returned to the house, Mr Tan was standing at the mezzanine level near the orange bag, which was in plain sight.
Iskandar said his partner would be arriving soon and told Mr Tan to leave the gate open.
Said Iskandar: "(Mr Tan Boon Sin) was standing near the staircase, the orange bag was still there but Mr Tan was near the bag, so there was no opportunity to take the bag and run."
He asked to use the bathroom. Coming out two minutes later, he saw that the orange bag was no longer at that spot and that Mr Tan was speaking in Hokkien to someone over the phone. Iskandar waited while Mr Tan moved towards the kitchen before ending his call.
"I told (Mr Tan) that we need to go back to Cisco because his box has been hit, and the culprit has been caught, and that we need to bring the valuables to put back inside," said Iskandar.
The older man seemed surprised, Iskandar said, and went into the kitchen to make another call. It is not known whom he called.
After a while, Iskandar called out to Mr Tan and said they needed to be on their way when the older man appeared at the kitchen door.
He looked angry, Iskandar said, adding that Mr Tan said in Malay that Iskandar had cheated him because the CCTV camera he had given him earlier contained no batteries.
"I was surprised he found out about the CCTV so I told him that it didn't need to use batteries," Iskandar said, adding that Mr Tan did not respond but kept moving towards him.
About an arm's length away from Iskandar, Mr Tan raised his arm, revealing a knife.
The older man swung the knife at him, and Iskandar said his reflex was to try and grab Mr Tan's hand to stop the attack.
"I was very surprised. I used my hand to grab him but grabbed the hand holding the knife."
There was a struggle and he wrested the knife from Mr Tan, but he said the older man continued attacking him, grabbing his shirt and hitting his body.
"My right hand bleeding but still holding knife," Iskandar said, "when I tightened my right hand, I felt pain like it was pressing on my bone." The scuffle continued and he remember hitting Mr Tan "about five or six times".
"I was in pain, hand was bleeding. I panicked that there was so much blood. My whole life never been cut before like that. Everything was very fast, then it seems blurry to me," he said.
At some point, Iskandar was bitten on his left hand by Mr Tan, who did not let go, he said.
"At the point, I didn't think about the money any more, I was just fearing for my life because Mr Tan... attacked me with a knife, so I feared for my safety and wanted to leave the house," Iskandar said.
Mr Tan's grip on him was loosening, but he was falling backwards and pulled Iskandar with him. Iskandar bent over as Mr Tan collapsed to the ground and as Iskandar was straightening himself to stand up, he heard someone at the door shout "Pa" - Mr Tan Chee Heong.
Mr Tan Chee Heong's hands were balled into fists and he charged at Iskandar to strike him.
Iskandar said he defended himself by punching back, his right hand still clenched in a fist, forgetting that he had a knife in it.
"I didn't intend to stab him. I intended to punch his face because his punch was at my face so I wanted to retaliate," he said. "I was in shock somebody suddenly just came home."
After several moments, which saw Mr Tan Chee Heong slip and fall on the blood twice, he stumbled out of the house, Iskandar said.
He grabbed a towel from the toilet as a makeshift bandage for his cut right hand before grabbing Mr Tan Boon Sin's car keys from the floor next to his body.
On the floor was also a piece of paper that said "Rahman, PID", the pseudonym he gave Mr Tan when they met earlier that day.
Iskandar picked up that piece of paper as well as his sunglasses that had fallen off during the tussle and left the house, getting into Mr Tan's silver Toyota Camry and driving off.
Despite Mr Tan Chee Heong's body being dragged about 1km by the car, Iskandar said he never felt any difference while driving, nor did he see the younger Mr Tan lying behind the car.
"On Upper Serangoon Road, some people were horning (sic) at me, but I thought it was because there were some bloodstains near the back door on the right, so I just drove faster until the horning (sic) stopped," he said.
3. The escape
Iskandar abandoned Mr Tan's car at Eunos Industrial Park and drove his rented car, which he had parked there earlier, to his flat in Kim Keat.
He showered and stuffed his bloodied clothes, shoes and socks into a plastic bag. He also asked his mother to bring some bandages to his room, telling her he had cut himself.
He then left and drove aimlessly, passing Upper Serangoon Road where he saw police officers.
"While driving, I felt remorseful that the turn of events was not quite what I expected it to be. It was so far from what I imagined it to be," he said, adding that he said prayers and that he was sorry things turned out that way.
He ended up at East Coast Park, where he threw the plastic bag with his bloodied clothes into a canal. The bag and the alleged murder weapon have never been recovered.
That night, he fled to Malaysia on his scooter.
He said: "I was shocked. I was scared that the blame will be put on me now that I'm the only one alive."
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Iskandar Rahmat gets married.
He gets divorced. Has outstanding loans on home, renovation and car.
Promoted to Senior Staff Sergeant.
In October or November, notice to attend bankruptcy hearing served to his workplace at Bedok Police Division (BPD) and received by his superior. In November, Mr Tan Boon Sin makes police report at BPD about theft in his safe-deposit box.
In January, Iskandar barred from carrying arms and transferred out of Investigation Section.
In April, he attends first Police Disciplinary Board (PDB) hearing for financial embarrassment.
At second PDB, he is reminded that he could be fired from police force.
At bankruptcy hearing, judge approves his offer to make $50,000 payment to OCBC Bank.
Iskandar hatches plan to rob Mr Tan, according to his defence.
He kills Mr Tan Boon Sin and his son, Mr Tan Chee Heong. He flees to Malaysia that night on scooter.
Arrested in Malaysia.
Brought back to Singapore.
Charged with double murders of Mr Tan Boon Sin and Mr Tan Chee Heong.