Ex-mechanic escapes the gallows, gets 35 years for killing toll booth operator

KOTA BHARU: The Federal Court commuted the death sentence of an ex-mechanic to a 35-year jail term and 12 strokes of the cane for killing a woman nine years ago.

A three-judge panel led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Mat on Thursday (April 18) unanimously allowed the review application by Norhalis Mohamad Zaid, 38, under Section 302 of the Penal Code, Section 2(4) and 3(1) of the Revision Sentences of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act 2023.

Tengku Maimun set aside the death sentence handed down on Norhalis by the Temerloh High Court on Oct 2, 2018, and ordered him to serve a 35-year jail term starting from the date of his arrest on July 21, 2015.

Norhalis has been imprisoned for nine years.

Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Federal Court Judge Datuk Nordin Hassan also presided over the case.

Norhalis was found guilty under Section 302 of the Penal Code for killing Noor Salwana Wahab, 28, a toll booth operator, in an area near a hotel in Seri Kembangan between 6.30 pm on July 17, 2015, and 2am the following day.

The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against the High Court decision on Oct 10, 2019; on Dec 16, 2020, the Federal Court upheld the conviction.

Earlier, lawyer Mohd Kamaruzaman A Wahab, appearing for Norhalis, pleaded with the court to reduce the sentence, stating that Norhalis is a filial son to his father.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Norzilati Izhani Zainal@Zainol requested the court to uphold the death sentence as the crime was heinous.

On July 18, 2015, media reported the discovery of a woman’s body wrapped in a thick cloth after a car driven by her boyfriend crashed on the East Coast Expressway, believed due to drowsiness.

The victim was found in the front seat with an injury on the neck, while the car driver suffered a broken rib.

Her body was taken to Jerantut Hospital here, and doubts arose because no external injuries were found on her body. The forensic team confirmed she died as a result of the injury to the neck.- Bernama

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