PUTRAJAYA: A former bodyguard, who once worked for politicians Azmin Ali and Nurul Izzah Anwar, has been ordered to be held at a mental hospital for causing the death of three persons and attempting to take the life of five others at the southbound Penang Bridge exit seven years ago.
A three-member Court of Appeal bench chaired by Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail said they were satisfied that Ja’afar Halid committed the acts for which he was charged.
“However, the defence had succeeded on the balance of probabilities in raising the defence of legal insanity as provided under Section 84 of the Penal Code,” she said, when setting aside the death sentence imposed by the High Court in 2020.
That provision states that nothing done by a person who, at the time of doing it, because of unsound mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing something wrong or contrary to law.
Hadhariah, who sat with Justices Azman Abdullah and SM Komathy Suppiah, said Ja’afar could opt to be sent to a hospital in Perak or Johor.
“By Section 348(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the ruler (in this case, the Penang governor) may order Ja’afar to be confined in a psychiatric hospital at his pleasure,” she said.
Ja’afar committed the acts at the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway near the Penang Bridge between 7.15pm and 7.30pm on Dec 1, 2016.
The 43-year-old bodyguard shot dead his boss a known gangland leader, and terrorised motorists by firing randomly at passers-by in a six-hour stand-off.
At his trial three years ago, the High Court sentenced him to death for murdering his boss, Ong Teik Kwon, 32, entertainer Choi Hon Ming, 32, and florist Senthil Murugaiah, 38.
He was also sentenced to 15 years’ jail for attempting to murder Dr Arivarni Kershnian, 33, factory worker Lee Hong Boon, 32, RTM videographer Amirul Amin Amir, 28, and bank employee Poh Bee Joo, 32.
Lawyer Y Anbananthan appeared for Ja’afar, while deputy public prosecutor How May Ling represented the prosecution in today’s proceeding.
On Oct 18 last year, the Federal Court affirmed two lower court rulings holding a security company responsible for the shooting by Ja’afar, its employee, of Amirul and the seven others.
Justice Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal said the evidence adduced established that Ja’afar had shot Amirul at close range, resulting in his victim suffering serious physical and psychological injuries.
The judge said it had also been proven that Ja’afar had committed the act in the course of his employment with GMP Kaisar Security Sdn Bhd.
Harmindar said Ja’afar used a Glock automatic pistol owned and provided to him by his employer.
In that suit, the High Court awarded RM114,470 in damages to Amirul, who had sued GMP Kaisar for vicarious liability.
According to evidence led in court during the murder trial, Ja’afar had worked as a bodyguard for Azmin between 2008 and 2009, and Nurul Izzah from 2009 to 2010.