SINGAPORE – Cleaning supervisor Maimunah Awang was kind to her subordinates at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal where she worked and even allowed a cleaner to sleep in the storeroom, even though she knew it was against the rules.
The cleaner, Malaysian Ahmad Muin Yaacob, 26, now stands accused of brutally murdering the 54-year-old widow. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.
“The accused repaid her kindness in blood,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal told the High Court on Tuesday (Sept 17), as he set out the case against Ahmad Muin.
On Nov 24, 2016, in the cramped storeroom, the cleaner stabbed Madam Maimunah with a pair of grass cutters and bludgeoned her on the head until she stopped moving. He then removed her gold jewellery before dumping her body in a deep drain nearby.
He made a quick getaway to Malaysia, where he pawned the jewellery and proceeded with his scheduled wedding on Dec 9, 2016.
He sold one of the bracelets for RM1,000 (S$330) in Johor before arriving home in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan, where he pawned two necklaces and a bracelet for RM7,500.
He set aside RM6,000 for the dowry and used some money to gamble.
He later sold the pawn ticket to another pawnshop for RM1,054 and used part of the proceeds for his wedding expenses.
Ahmad Muin was apprehended by Malaysian police on Dec 18, 2016, and handed over to Singapore police the next day at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
He was arrested upon arrival in Singapore later that day.
The prosecution’s case is that Ahmad Muin needed money to finance his wedding and he had seized on the opportunity to prey on a defenceless woman when only he and Madam Maimunah were in the storeroom.
The court heard that Madam Maimunah wore gold jewellery every day, even at work.
Her boss, Mr Roslan Tamain, testified that she wore necklaces, bangles, anklets and rings on all 10 fingers.
Ahmad Muin was employed as a cleaner on a temporary work permit and started work in late October 2016 at a monthly salary of $1,100.
The court heard that he borrowed money from Madam Maimunah and other colleagues at the ferry terminal.
On Nov 8, 2016, Mr Roslan told the accused that he would be terminating his employment to cut costs.
He said Ahmad Muin told him he needed money for his wedding and asked to continue working until he found another job.
Mr Roslan said he gave $400 in salary to the accused on Nov 22 and told him he would give him the balance $100 the next day. He also told Ahmad Muin not to continue working there any more.
Another worker, Mr Raja Kumar Achalingam Krishnasamy, who helps customers call for limousine taxis, said he saw Ahmad Muin walking towards the storeroom and looking stressed at around noon on Nov 24, 2016.
DPP Mohamed Faizal said that when the accused was alone with Madam Maimunah, he attacked her, thrusting the blade of the grass cutters into her chest.
She fell and pleaded with the accused not to harm or kill her. She tried to get up, but he repeatedly hit her head with the grass cutters. As she gasped for air, he took her jewellery.
He then pulled her body to the side of the drain outside, removed the drain cover, pushed her into the drain and closed the cover.
At 1pm, after keeping the jewellery and taking her phone, he took a taxi to Woodlands Checkpoint, where he then took a bus to Johor.
A report from the Institute of Mental Health said he has no major mental illness.
In police statements after his arrest, Ahmad Muin said he attacked Madam Maimunah after she called him stupid and incompetent, and insulted his family.
He is defended by Mr Hassan Esa Almenoar and Mr Rajan Supramaniam.
They will be calling psychiatric evidence to make a case for diminished responsibility in their client’s defence.
The trial continues on Sept 25.