SINGAPORE - The Court of Appeal clarified yesterday the scope of a criminal law provision enacted 138 years ago. And the court's interpretation of the meaning of common intention has saved the lives of two men headed for the gallows.
Daniel Vijay Katherasan and Christopher Samson Anpalagan, both 27, had been convicted of murder. But a 128-page written judgment from the highest court in the land has now found them guilty of robbery with hurt.
They were in a group of three who had robbed a lorry loaded with 2,700 mobile phones, worth $1.3 million, in May 2006. During the robbery along Changi Coast Road, Nakamuthu Balakrishnan, 51, bashed the lorry driver, Mr Wan Cheon Kem, with a baseball bat.
The Appellate Court ruled that Katherasan and Anpalagan shared no common intention with Balakrishnan to kill Mr Wan, nor did the duo intend to knock the latter unconscious.
While they knew violence would be necessary to carry out the robbery, Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, who delivered the judgment, said knowledge was not the same as intention.
"In short, there was no finding of a common intention among the Appellants to cause Wan's death or inflict any specific injury on Wan," he wrote.
In setting out a non-exhaustive list of various scenarios, the Court explained that an offender can only be said to have committed a crime with common intention if he had the same intention to commit the act done by the actual perpetrator.
Where murder is concerned, the Court ruled there must be a common intention to cause, specifically, an injury leading to the offence.
Katherasan and Anpalagan will be sentenced at a later date.
The duo face a jail term of between five and 20 years and at least 12 strokes of the cane.