Man who stabbed mother to death acquitted on grounds of temporary insanity

SINGAPORE: He loved his mother, who lived with his family, but under the heavy influence of drugs, Mohamed Redha Abdul Mutalib stabbed her to death two years ago in their Eunos Crescent flat.

In what is believed to be a rare case, the former healthcare assistant at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) was on Wednesday acquitted of murdering Asnah Aziz on grounds of temporary insanity.

Issuing his verdict, High Court judge Tay Yong Kwang said Redha, 32, was of unsound mind and incapable of knowing his act constituted murder.

The court heard that Redha abused cough mixture and a drug called Dextromethorphan, or Romilar. He was heavily intoxicated with Dextromethorphan and experiencing delusions when he stabbed his mother, a widowed housewife, multiple times on Jan 26, 2012.

Redha was awakened that day by the noise from a lion dance troupe nearby and had wanted to leave the flat, but was stopped by Asnah, 56. He went back to bed and heard voices telling him to slap his mother and kill her, which he did by stabbing her repeatedly with two kitchen knives. Redha then climbed out of the kitchen window into a neighbouring unit. He climbed to the roof of the block of flats before returning to the neighbouring unit, where he allegedly stole S$374.

He took a car belonging to a driving school from a car park in front of Eunos MRT Station – the car was not locked and its keys were under the driver’s seat – and drove to Strathmore Avenue in Queenstown.

Singapore Civil Defence Force officers found him there after receiving a message about an injured man, and Redha was taken to the hospital and arrested later.

His mother was found by her son-in-law in the flat with blood everywhere and was pronounced dead later.

Redha was found by IMH psychiatrist Kenneth Koh to be suffering from substance-induced psychotic disorder, and of temporary unsound mind, at the time of his offence. Court documents showed that he had a history of drug abuse and took Romilar pills as a “way to meet God”.

Redha pleaded not guilty to murder on Wednesday. His lawyer R S Bajwa said Redha, the youngest of three children, loved his mother and had no intention to harm or kill her. He had believed she was a spirit, and is now aware of what he has done and is remorseful, said Mr Bajwa.

Justice Tay ordered that Redha be kept in safe custody in Changi Prison pending orders from the Home Affairs Minister that he be confined in a psychiatric institution or another suitable place.

Redha appeared relaxed in court and his wife, sister and best friend were at the hearing. His wife of nine years, Filipino nurse Alma Pendon Sorongon, said she was thankful for the judge’s decision. They have a nine-year-old daughter and Ms Sorongon was aware of Redha’s substance abuse. Redha had told her that he took drugs to go “into a certain world that only he knows”. She had asked his mother to take him to a doctor, but Asnah felt that he did not need medical help.

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