‘Inspector’ jailed for impersonation

Fadley Faisal

A permanent resident who impersonated a police officer and abetted the Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) of a police officer by instigating the illegal sales of police property was sentenced to a 12-month jail term by the Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Mohammad Azwan bin Zawawi changed his plea to guilty before a trial could start.

Chief Magistrate Pengiran Masni binti Pengiran Haji Bahar handed the sentence following the defendant’s guilty plea towards a charge of impersonation of an Inspector of the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) by wearing a uniform in resemblance to it sometime between October 8 and 10, 2017 and in August 2017, of abetting Lance Corporal 5286 Arman anak Degat in CBT by instigating him to sell property belonging to the RBPF entrusted to Arman.

Arman was a storekeeper of the Temburong Police District Headquarters and the items involved were a police cap and beret, webbing belt, five buttons 26L, four buttons 36L, a whistle, a set of neck-collar badge and a set of epaulettes.

DPP Raihan Nabilah binti Haji Ahmad Ghazali revealed in court that the defendant had always wanted to be a police officer and was inspired to have his photo taken wearing a police uniform to mirror a character from Gerak Khas in July 2017 after watching several Malaysian police movies and TV series.

Arman was the defendant’s friend and contacted him, telling him that a Singaporean collector wanted to procure the police uniform kits.

The defendant and Arman agreed to sell the kits for BND2,000 to the Singaporean collector, who is unbeknown to Arman to be a fictitious character. The items were handed by Arman to the defendant over two occasions for which Arman was not paid.

In July 2017, the defendant had a police uniform tailored for himself at a shop and even made himself a badge bearing the Royal Brunei Police Force emblem and the name INSP AZWAN. Then he bought a pair of shiny black shoes.

In October 2017, the defendant befriended a woman from Instagram, started conversing with her over WhatsApp and to court her, told the woman that he was an Inspector transferred from Seria Police Station to the Commercial Crime Unit, Criminal Investigation Department, RBPF.

Between October 8 and 10, 2017 the defendant sent five photos of himself impersonating as a police officer to convince her. The woman asked her relative who was in the police about Inspector Azwan.

Her relative told her he was not aware of such a person which prompted the woman to lodge a police report on October 12, 2017 leading to the defendant’s arrest.

Defence counsel Pengiran Khairul Nizam bin Pengiran Haji Mohd Yassin gave mitigations on behalf of the defendant, urging the court to hand a sentence under the Probation and Community Services Act while citing the defendant’s personal circumstances, his remorse, intention to temporarily keep the uniform and only used it to flatter the woman, among others.

The Chief Magistrate on handing sentence said that impersonating a police officer could lead to a commission of another offence as in this case if the said fantasy of the defendant gets out of hand.

“As such, any form of impersonation of any uniformed personnel could have a detrimental effect,” the court considered.

“Any form of deception could mislead the public which in turn could inhibit public confidence and trust,” said the Chief Magistrate.

The court took into account the mitigating factors of the case but said that a Probation Order for a sentence is not warranted in this case as there is no extenuating factors arising from the case and that a fine would not reflect the gravity of the offence.