Jail for tuberculosis patient who attacked Singapore health officer and nurse

Muhammad Sholehin Jamari, 28, pleaded guilty to five charges, including using criminal force and voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant. — TODAY pic
Muhammad Sholehin Jamari, 28, pleaded guilty to five charges, including using criminal force and voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Sept 11 — When Muhammad Sholehin Jamari was escorted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s tuberculosis control unit, he tried to run from three auxiliary police officers and a health officer from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

He spat at the MOH officer and kicked him in the abdomen, and threw a rubbish bin at one of the other officers.

Sholehin was eventually sent to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for refusing compulsory treatment for his tuberculosis. There, he spat at and verbally abused a staff nurse.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail. 

The 28-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty to five charges, including using criminal force and voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant. Another six similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Tuberculosis, also known as phthisis and the white plague, is an airborne infectious disease.

MOH data showed that from 2009 to 2018, Singapore has seen an average of 1,510 new cases of the disease each year.

Court documents did not state if Sholehin’s victims got infected because of his spit, but it was not cited as an aggravating factor in the case.

Turned aggressive

The court heard that on March 14 in 2017, Sholehin was in a Singapore General Hospital ward when he noticed another patient’s mobile phone on the table next to his bed.

The patient had fallen asleep after making a call. Sholehin then pocketed the phone.

When the other man woke up about four hours later, he told the nurse that his device was missing and that Sholehin might have taken it since he was behaving suspiciously earlier.

Police officers arrived after the victim called for help, found Sholehin, and retrieved the mobile phone from his sling bag.

Sholehin also could not explain why he had an EZ-link card, a student card and condominium access card that did not belong to him.

A few months later on August 21, 2017, the MOH officer and Aetos auxiliary police officers took Sholehin to the tuberculosis control unit located at Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Communicable Diseases Centre.

He was initially uncooperative and refused to follow them, but agreed to do so after much persuasion.

When they got there, he kept pacing about within the premises of the clinic. The officers followed him closely as they suspected that he would try to escape.

Sure enough, Sholelin tried to leave about an hour later. The MOH officer stopped him and told him to sit down, but Sholelin turned aggressive, slapped his hand away and turned to the other exit in another attempt to flee.

The officer then told the auxiliary officers to handcuff him, but he started to run. He threw a rubbish bin backwards at them but missed.

When he was finally detained, the officers escorted him back. He spat at the MOH officer’s face and upper body twice on the way while repeatedly shouting vulgarities.

The MOH officer called for police assistance.

Back at the clinic, he asked other patients to stay away from Sholehin, who was still behaving aggressively and kicking some chairs. 

Sholelin then suddenly approached the MOH officer and kicked him in the abdomen. He fell backwards and was later given three days of medical leave for a back contusion.

Threatened to jump

On January 20, 2018, Sholelin was transferred within IMH to another ward.

Four days later, he climbed the ward’s ceiling grille and threatened to jump down in order to get out of the building.

The panic alarm was activated and all the staff nurses in the ward went to attend to him. After being persuaded to go down, he was restrained.

Still suffering from tuberculosis at that point, he then shouted vulgarities at a nurse and spat at his face.

In mitigation, Sholelin’s lawyer — Mohamed Fazal Abdul Hamid from IRB Law — said that his client had been admitted to IMH more than 50 times, mostly for aggressive behaviour and ingestion of foreign objects such as screws.

He studied in a school for those with special needs, and has been diagnosed with mild intellectual disability and antisocial personality disorder.

He is now married and has not been violent for over a year, and is taking his medication and complying with follow-up IMH appointments, Fazal added.

The lawyer sought probation, which is usually offered to offenders under 21, as it can allow Sholelin to continue undergoing treatment.

Fazal said that his client has “shown a high propensity for rehabilitation” as well.

The court allowed him to begin serving his jail time on Friday as he needs to settle some personal affairs, but Fazal told TODAY that Sholehin may consider filing an appeal against the sentence.

For causing hurt to a public servant, Sholehin could have been jailed up to seven years and fined or caned.

For using criminal force on a public servant, he could have been jailed up to four years or fined, or both. — TODAY