SINGAPORE - A man reoffended barely five months after serving 14 years behind bars when he tried to rape a tourist in her room at Hilton Singapore hotel.
After fleeing from the hotel in Orchard Road, Isa Ahmad followed a second female tourist into a lift at the nearby Tang Plaza later that day and robbed her of her mobile phone.
The 54-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Oct 23) to one count each of robbery and attempted aggravated rape.
The court heard that Isa had earlier been convicted of multiple counts of robbery.
In June 1994, he was sentenced to eight years' corrective training (CT) and 12 strokes of the cane for the offences.
CT is a prison regime for repeat offenders without the usual one-third remission for good behaviour. The maximum period is 14 years.
He continued committing robbery after his release and was last sentenced in October 2002 to 14 years of preventive detention (PD) with the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.
PD is only for repeat offenders who are above 30 years old. Compared to CT, PD involves a longer period of incarceration, lasting up to 20 years.
He did not learn his lesson when he was finally released in 2016, and targeted the two women on March 12, 2017.
Isa, who worked as a housekeeper at Orchard Hotel Singapore, found the first victim, a 27-year-old woman, attractive and followed her into Hilton Singapore hotel.
They entered the same lift and by using her key card, the woman gained access to the 16th storey, where her room was located.
Just as she entered her room at around 11.30am, Isa grabbed her from behind and covered her mouth with his towel.
The pair struggled and he dragged the woman by her hair to the bed.
He then used his free hand to press a pillow against her face until she could not breathe momentarily.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gregory Gan said the woman managed to kick Isa and when she was able to speak, told him someone was returning to the room although she was staying there alone.
Alarmed, Isa got out of the room when he heard this and the woman alerted hotel security. But before they could arrive, he knocked on her door and asked her for his towel when she opened it.
She immediately closed the door, called security again and the police were alerted at 12.50pm. She went to Tan Tock Seng Hospital where she was found with injuries including a bruised right elbow.
Later that day at around 5.30pm, Isa followed a 48-year-old woman into a lift at Tang Plaza before using a second towel to try restrain her by covering her neck and mouth.
She struggled and he managed to take her mobile phone worth about $700. The woman dashed out when the lift doors opened and called the police soon after.
Officers managed to trace Isa's identity and arrested him outside Orchard Hotel Singapore the next day.
On Wednesday, DPP Gan urged District Judge Victor Yeo to call for a report to assess Isa's suitability for a second PD, stressing that he "is a danger to society".
Defence lawyer K.V. Sudeep Kumar asked for Isa not to be given PD and pleaded for his client to be given 12 years' jail instead. He also said that Isa has erectile dysfunction.
Judge Yeo called for a report on the suitability of PD for Isa, who is now in remand and expected to be sentenced on Nov 12.
In a statement, Hilton Singapore told The Straits Times: "The safety, security and well-being of our guests are of paramount importance and we continue to make every effort to ensure all practices and standards are in line with strict safety and security regulations."
Offenders convicted of attempted aggravated rape can be jailed for up to 10 years and caned.
Isa cannot be caned, as he is over 50 years old.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.