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Judicial CP - November 2002
Straits Times, Singapore, 2 November 2002
Sari killer escapes death sentence once again
Saminathan Subramaniam's lawyer argues that he had not intended to kill his wife's godfather during argument
By Elena Chong and K.C. Vijayan
ODD-JOB labourer Saminathan Subramaniam has escaped the death sentence, the second time in four years.
This time, representations by his lawyer saved him from the gallows at the last minute.
The 42-year-old, who was originally accused of murdering his wife's elderly godfather with a sari, admitted instead to a reduced charge of manslaughter by strangling.
He also pleaded guilty to robbing the old man of jewellery and foreign currencies totalling $13,720.
Yesterday, he was jailed for life and ordered to be given 18 strokes of the cane for killing 78-year-old retiree Karichiappan Perumal on March 18.
Saminathan's earlier brush with the hangman happened in 1998, when he was charged with murdering prison warder Jaranjeet Singh, together with another man.
Both men attacked the warder after a staring incident at a coffeeshop in Lorong 18, Geylang.
But it turned out that it had been the other man, Nagarajan Kuppusamy, 38, who had smashed a beer bottle on Mr Jaranjeet Singh's head and then cut the Sikh's throat with the broken glass.
He was convicted of the murder and executed.
Saminathan was found guilty only of causing hurt with a dangerous weapon and sentenced to nine months in prison and caning.
It was not his first conviction. He has had several others for theft and housebreaking in the past 15 or so years. He has also been in and out of drug rehabilitation centres.
But his family was convinced he had changed his ways after he married Madam Sarojah Ayasamy, 42, Mr Karichiappan's goddaughter.
Said his younger brother, Mr S. Siva Kavi, 36: 'After his marriage, my brother seemed changed. He even took in his wife's two retarded siblings.
'He worked well in my transport business for some time. But he started drinking. It was to keep away from taking drugs, and we understood this.'
But things came to a head on March 17, when Saminathan heard a telephone conversation his wife had with her godfather, when she complained about her husband's gambling habit and his lack of a permanent job.
On March 18, he confronted the retiree at his flat in Jurong West, accompanied by his friend Swaran Singh, who is still at large. During the argument, the old man belittled him for not having any children after being married for three years.
That got Saminathan so angry he assaulted the old man, who fell.
When the retiree kept on castigating him, the two used a white dhoti, a sari and a blouse to shut him up. They wound the sari round his neck and later used the other garments to bind him up. Then they ransacked the place.
Said Mr Siva Kavi: 'My brother was upset when Karichiappan asked him to divorce his wife. He felt offended because the rest of us 11 siblings were happily married.'
Despite all this, Saminathan and his wife are still on good terms, he added. She visited him at the Queenstown Remand Prison before the court sat yesterday.
In the High Court yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Cheng Thiam asked for Saminathan to be given the maximum penalty of life imprisonment or 20 years' preventive detention.
He argued that the man had strangled and robbed someone he knew. His history of criminal behaviour also showed he was recalcitrant and a menace to society.
But Mr Subhas Anandan, Saminathan's lawyer, said that his client did not deserve such harsh sentences.
The man had been deeply hurt by Mr Karichiappan's remarks about not having any children.
He said the old man's injuries were the result of his fall. There had also been no intention to strangle him to death, and the victim was alive when Saminathan left him.
Straits Times, 9 November 2002
Instructor jailed for molesting 10 girls
He is jailed for four years after pretending to check their heartbeat at a camp as they do a night-time forest walk to build up their courage
By Dawn Wong
HAVING to walk through a forested area alone in the dark, as part of a camp programme, was scary enough for 10 Primary 5 schoolgirls - without having their camp instructor paw them.
But on the night of May 17, Kek Kah Gee, 28, their camp instructor, appeared during their 500 m 'solo walk', which was meant to build courage, to molest them.
On the pretext of checking their heartbeat to see if they were scared, he touched their breasts and chests.
Approaching them one by one, the freelance instructor with outdoor group Saint Adventures, even slipped his hand under some of the girls' T-shirts.
Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to 10 charges of outraging their modesty in a district court. Twelve similar charges were taken into consideration.
Kek was jailed for four years and given the maximum number of strokes of the cane - 24.
District Judge Wong Keen Onn called Kek's crimes 'despicable' and 'perverse'.
He said: 'You have tarnished the good reputation of volunteer teachers who selflessly devote their time to children. You have caused unwanted psychological trauma to the children.'
The girls, who cannot be named, are all aged 10 to 11, from a school in the north. They were part of a 300-strong group, which was attending a three-day camp at Sarimbun Scout Camp.
Kek, accompanied by another colleague, supervised the walk that night.
The students were arranged such that they were separated by a distance of 50 m from each other. Four students acted as 'markers' to guide their friends along the route.
Later in the night, when the victims had returned to the campsite, they spoke to each other about what Kek had done to them and decided to report the matter to their teachers.
When The Straits Times spoke to Saint Adventures' 33-year-old manager Edmond Tan yesterday, he said the group deeply regretted the incident.
He said: 'We will continue to be ever vigilant and will take great pains to prevent this from happening again.'
Copyright @ 2002 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
Straits Times, 20 November 2002
Extra strokes for damaging son's brain
A JOBLESS man who wanted to withdraw his appeal in the High Court yesterday against a sentence of three years' jail and six strokes of the cane had the number of strokes doubled instead.
The 36-year-old had caused serious brain damage to his baby son by slapping him repeatedly last November because he was fed up with the infant's incessant crying.
The boy, now 15 months old, has been referred to a special school for therapy. He was not able to crawl even when he was 11 months old, according to a medical report.
Yesterday, when the man's appeal came up for hearing, his lawyer tried to withdraw it. But Chief Justice Yong Pung How went ahead with the hearing.
He asked the man: 'What were you trying to do? Murder your three-month-old baby by slapping and slapping him until he was unconscious? And now, he is maimed for life.'
The man said that he did not do so intentionally. 'I did not think it was serious,' he said. He added that he also had a three-year-old daughter but did not hit her.
He explained that he had been under pressure because he was unemployed and on the verge of bankruptcy. But CJ Yong said that was no reason for him to slap his son.
Deputy Public Prosecutor David Chew told the court that while the jail term was adequate, six strokes of the cane was lenient.
Agreeing, the Chief Justice ordered the man to be caned 12 strokes. 'You're very lucky I didn't give you 24 strokes,' he told him.
The injuries were discovered by the baby's mother, 33. The father, who cannot be named to protect the child's identity, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Sept 18 for causing grievous hurt to his son.
Copyright @ 2002 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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