KOTA KINABALU: A contractor succeeded in securing bail on a joint charge of killing the family's maid last year.
High Court Judge Leonard David Shim decided to grant bail to Mohammad Ambree Yunos @ Unos, 40.
His wife, Etiqah Siti Noorashikeen Mohd Sulong, 33, a former MasterChef Malaysia finalist, had been granted bail on April 26 after she won her Court of Appeal case.
In his decision, Leonard held that while it might not be in the interests of the public to grant bail to a person facing a murder charge, the factors highlighted by the defence counsels in their written submissions operated favorably towards the applicant (Ambree).
The court found the requirements of public interest could be satisfied by imposing suitable conditions in granting bail.
"In the absence of evidence of flight risk and tampering with evidence/witnesses and the lack of reasonable grounds being shown for believing the applicant had committed the offence of murder he is charged with and having regard to the unexplained and inordinate delay in transferring the case against the applicant and/or his wife to the High Court, this court finds this is an appropriate case to exercise its discretion to grant bail.
"Although the offence of murder is very grave, the seriousness of the offence is not the dominant factor. It must be balanced against the failure of the prosecution to show that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the applicant had committed such an offence," said the judge while citing two previous cases — Datuk Balwant Singh (PP v Dato' Balwant Singh) and Hobalan N. Vello (Hobalan N Vello v PP).
Ambree was in tears upon hearing the court's decision. His mother and sister in the public gallery were seen looking relieved.
The father of three children was granted RM30,000 bail with a RM10,000 deposit under two local sureties, who are his family members.
His passport and travel documents are to be surrendered to the court and there should be no inter-state travelling without the leave of the court.
Ambree was also ordered to report himself at the Penampang police station every Monday and not to approach or disturb any of the prosecution's witnesses.
Further, Leonard said an electronic device was to be attached to the accused under Section 388A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
Ambree and his wife were jointly charged on Dec 29 last year, for a non-bailable offence case, under Section 302 of the Penal Code which provides for capital punishment.
The couple had allegedly murdered their 28-year-old maid, Nur Afiah Daeng Damin at a home in Amber Tower, Lido Avenue, Jalan Lintas, Penampang, between Dec 10 and 13, 2021.
The victim whose parents are Indonesian citizens was a MyKad holder as stated in the charge sheet with the number "01" as the seventh and eighth digits that indicated her place of birth to be Johor.
The magistrate's court has fixed Nov 9, for re-mention, pending the production of the deceased's post-mortem report.
Counsels Ram Singh, Kimberly Ye and Chen Wen Jye represented Ambree. Deputy public prosecutor Mohammed Ali Imran prosecuted.
Meanwhile, in the magistrate's court, Ambree was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) for threatening his wife Etiqah in 2020.
Magistrate Stephanie Sherron Abbie made the decision following the wife's intention not to proceed with the case against her husband when the case was mentioned for a continuation of the trial.
The wife, who was supposed to be cross-examined by Ambree's lawyers today, informed the court that she had lodged a police report on Oct 11 to retract her previous report against her husband.
Etiqah said it was the best option after taking into consideration their small children who need them.
Inspector Suzie @ Stephanie Kupit then applied for a new date pending DPP's instruction but Ram Singh asked his client to be discharged and acquitted under Section 254 (3) of the CPC.
Ambree was accused of committing the
offence at 2pm on April 26, 2020 in a house at Taman Sri Juta, Jalan Kepayan, here.
The charge under Section 506 of the Penal Code carries a jail term of up to two years or fine, or both, on conviction.