SINGAPORE, May 24 — When a long-running dispute with his wife flared up, Zahar Ahamad took a keris — a traditional dagger — and moved it towards her neck. The woman tried to move out the way but suffered a cut to her shoulder.

Zahar, 59, a Singaporean, was yesterday (May 23) sentenced to five months’ jail after pleading guilty to one charge each of causing grievous hurt and breaching a personal protection order (PPO). Two similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

In July 2019, Zahar and the victim, Khatijah Ali, 38, argued in their home as he was unhappy that the victim was using her handphone. He had long suspected the victim of cheating on him, the court heard.

During the argument, Zahar punched the woman in her left eye and the quarrel subsided.

Soon after, Zahar confronted the victim again on whether she was cheating on him. When Khatijah shouted in response, Zahar took the keris and moved it towards her neck.

The woman dodged but the weapon cut her on her left shoulder and caused her to bleed. A medical report stated that the victim was left with a 3cm scar. Court documents did not indicate the size of the keris.

At that time, Zahar was the subject of a PPO which the victim had obtained in December 2007.

Seeking a prison term of at least six months, the prosecution cited the use of a potentially lethal weapon, and the fact that Zahar had aimed it at the victim’s neck.

Zahar had also punched the woman in her eye before that, and made the decision to use the keris against the victim after the quarrel had subsided.

The prosecution also noted that Zahar had previously dislocated the victim’s thumb and caused deformity to her finger. This injury related to one of the charges taken into consideration.

Seeking a lighter sentence, Zahar, through a pro-bono counsel, said that his marriage of almost two decades with the victim had been rocky. The couple is now divorced.

He claimed that the woman had multiple extramarital relationships, adding that it was his discovery of photos that allegedly proved her infidelity that had made him act the way he did.

The defence argued that Zahar’s actions were not premeditated and that he had no prior record of violent offences.

Zahar also argued for a shorter jail sentence so that his two children, who were present in court and over whom he has sole custody, would not be “deprived of his care for a very long time”.

In sentencing, District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam said the fact that a weapon was used in assaulting the victim was an egregious fact that “the court cannot ignore”, even though the eventual harm caused was low.

She added that there was no reason to resort to violence in the domestic dispute.

The fact that the attack had occurred in the victim’s own home, in a situation where the victim was not in a position to retaliate, also aggravated the offence.

A person convicted of causing hurt by means of a dangerous weapon, can be jailed for up to seven years, fined, caned or handed a combination of these punishments.

Anyone convicted of breaching a protection order can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$2,000, or both for the first offence. ― TODAY