PUTRAJAYA: A former school bus driver began an eight-year prison term today following his conviction on three counts of sodomising an 11-year-old boy in his vehicle seven years ago.
In overturning his acquittal, a three-member Court of Appeal bench – chaired by Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail and accompanied by Justices Azman Abdullah and SM Komathy Suppiah – ruled in favour of the prosecution and convicted Kassim Tahir, 53, of sodomy under Section 377B of the Penal Code.
Hadhariah said the High Court erred in ruling that a preliminary inquiry should have been held before the sessions court accepted the victim’s evidence.
Hadhariah also agreed with deputy public prosecutor Aida Khairuleen’s submission that the boy, at 14 years old, was mature enough to tell the truth as required under Section 118 of the Evidence Act 1950.
“There was no necessity for the trial judge to conduct a preliminary inquiry as required under Section 133A of the Evidence Act because the boy was not of tender years,” she said.
Kassim committed the offences in his vehicle between April 2016 and May 2016 in Ulu Tiram, Johor.
In 2019, the sessions court sentenced him to 10 years and one stroke of the rotan for each of the offences, with the custodial terms to run concurrently.
However, in 2020, the High Court granted Kassim’s appeal and released him.
Overturning the 2020 decision, the Court of Appeal reduced Kassim’s prison term to eight years and, according to Kassim’s lawyer Che Muji Che Noh, spared him the rotan because he is suffering from a kidney problem.
Che Muji said the sentence would take into account time served from July 16, 2019, to Sept 8, 2020.