Malaysian man sentenced to death escapes gallows again

SINGAPORE (CNA) – A Malaysian man who was sentenced to death for bringing drugs into Singapore escaped the gallows for a second time yesterday after the Court of Appeal set aside his conviction and found him guilty of a reduced charge of attempted drug importation.

Gobi Avedian, 32, was sentenced instead to 15 years’ jail and 10 strokes of the cane, with the sentence backdated to the date of his remand.

In its decision, the court found that the prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Gobi – who claimed he did not know the bundles he was carrying contained heroin – had been “wilfully blind”.

The decision came after Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon together with Appeal Judges Andrew Phang, Judith Prakash, Tay Yong Kwang and Steven Chong reviewed and overturned an earlier decision by the Court of Appeal.

Gobi, who was represented in the application by lawyer M Ravi, was a security guard living in Johor Bahru and commuting to work in Singapore at the time of the offence in 2014.

Gobi was introduced to a person known only as Vinod, who told him he could earn money by delivering drugs mixed with chocolate to Singapore.

Vinod told Gobi that the drugs were to be used in discos and were “ordinary” and “not serious”. He also assured Gobi that he would receive “just a fine or small punishment” if he was caught.

Court documents state that Gobi initially refused to carry out the delivery but eventually did so because he needed money for his daughter’s operation.

He delivered the drugs from Malaysia to Singapore on eight or nine occasions, receiving MYR500 ringgit for each delivery.

Gobi was caught on December 11, 2014 at Woodlands Checkpoint and subsequently handed a capital charge of importing 40.22g of heroin but a High Court judge acquitted him of the capital charge and reduced it to one of attempted drug importation in 2017.