Cleaning supervisor Maimunah Awang was kind to her subordinates at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal where she worked, and even allowed a cleaner to sleep in the storeroom despite knowing that 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 Mohamed Abdul Kadir told the High Court yesterday as he set out the case against Ahmad Muin.
On Nov 24, 2016, in the cramped storeroom, the accused 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 into 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.
Ahmad Muin 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.
DPP Mohamed Faizal said that while the accused was alone with Madam Maimunah, he attacked her, thrusting the blades of the grass cutters into her chest. She fell and pleaded with him 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 was apprehended by Malaysian police on Dec 18, 2016, and handed over to the Singapore police the next day at 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 that he had seized the opportunity to prey on a defenceless woman.
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 and anklets, as well as rings on all 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 had 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 had told him that 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, 2016, and said he would give him the remaining $100 the next day.
He also told Ahmad Muin to stop working at the terminal.
Another worker, Mr Raja Kumar Achalingam Krishnasamy, who helps customers call for limousine taxis, said that he had seen Ahmad Muin walking towards the storeroom and looking stressed at around noon on Nov 24, 2016.
DPP Mohamed Faizal said that while the accused was alone with Madam Maimunah, he attacked her, thrusting the blades of the grass cutters into her chest.
She fell and pleaded with him 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 a drain outside, removed the drain covers, pushed her in and closed the covers.
At 1pm, having taken Madam Maimunah’s jewellery and phone, he took a taxi to Woodlands Checkpoint, where he got on a bus to Johor.
A report from the Institute of Mental Health said the accused has no major mental illness.
In police statements after his arrest, Ahmad Muin said that he had 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 relying on psychiatric evidence in his defence.
The trial continues on Sept 25.