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Wasted second chance
Ismil (right) with lawyer R. Thrumurgan (left), who had hired the former drug addict as a dispatch assistant after proving his innocence in a robbery case in which a woman was murdered. In May this year, Ismil was busted in his flat by Central Narcotics Bureau officers for taking drugs. (ST FILE PHOTO)
Publication Date : 12-10-2012
He said he had tried his best to keep to the straight and narrow, but things had not turned out that way.
Yesterday, former death row inmate Ismil Kadar was jailed for seven years and given six strokes of the cane for consuming drugs.
This came 15 months after he was dramatically freed from prison in a landmark case, and after making headlines for how he was on the road to a more normal life.
Before he was sentenced, Ismil, 44, who had been in remand since June, was asked by District Judge Eddy Tham if he had anything to say. The bespectacled man looked solemn and said through a Malay interpreter that he would not repeat the offence.
When Judge Tham asked him why he had returned to drugs after he was given a new lease of life, Ismil said: "I have tried to do... my very best. I have planned for the best, but it did not work out."
The judge asked: "What could you have done? What else could be done to help you avoid this mistake?"
"I will prove to Your Honour that I will not do all these things again. I will not hurt the many people who have placed their trust in me," said Ismil.
The judge said: "I think it is quite clear there were a lot of people who helped you. But at the end of the day, you must learn to help yourself."
None of Ismil's adult relatives was in court. A woman with a baby in a pram was the only one he seemed to know in the gallery. His mother later told The Straits Times that they were probably his fiancee and son.
On May30 this year, Ismil - who had also been jailed and caned in 1999 for taking drugs - was busted by Central Narcotics Bureau officers from Jurong police station in his Boon Lay Avenue flat for suspected drug consumption. Urine samples were taken and later found to contain heroin.
Investigations showed he had taken "ubat", the Malay term for medicine, but it is also the street name for drugs such as heroin.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Michelle Yeo said he had bought the ubat for S$100 "from his usual peddler, an unidentified male Chinese known as Ah Chong, at Boon Lay Market".
He usually consumed a packet over four to five days, and had begun taking it a few months earlier "due to boredom". He would get "a high for a few hours" after smoking it.
The former drug addict is no stranger to prison. In August 1999, he was jailed for five years and caned three times for taking morphine.
In 2005, he and his brother were arrested for the murder of their 69-year-old female neighbour during a robbery. They were convicted of the crime in 2009 and sentenced to death.
Before the Court of Appeal heard the case, the prosecution amended the charge to robbery with hurt. The highest court in the land later acquitted him on the robbery charge.
In a strongly worded judgment, the appeals court also highlighted "serious lapses" by police and prosecutors, and said certain evidence had been provided by the prosecution to the defence later than it should have been.
The Court of Appeal eventually found that his brother, Muhammad Kadar, now 37, tried in the same case, had been solely responsible for the murder.
Ismil then began a new chapter in his life. He was hired as a dispatch assistant by lawyer R. Thrumurgan, who had fought his case pro bono for six years.
DPP Yeo yesterday said the six years Ismil spent in prison had not taught him a lesson.
Amarick Gill, the lawyer representing him in the latest case, said his client had succumbed to his old habits after having been wrongfully incarcerated for six years. He said: "Everybody before Your Honour ought to have known better. This is one of those situations he ought to have known better."
A second charge of being in possession of 0.18g of heroin was taken into consideration.
But as this was Ismil's second drug-taking offence, he was liable for enhanced punishment under the long-term imprisonment scheme.
Yesterday, he received the minimum sentence. He could have been given the maximum sentence of 13 years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane.