SINGAPORE, March 20 — For over a decade, a fatal robbery in Bukit Batok West in 2001 remained unsolved. The culprit, who was not identified by the authorities, continued to lead a life of crime, and in fact, was jailed thrice for other offences.
But voices persisted in Gunasegaran Ramasamy’s head throughout that period, condemning him for taking a woman’s life over S$30 (RM95).
In November 2013, the 32-year-old decided he had had enough and turned himself in at a Neighbourhood Police Centre. And today, he was sentenced to 10 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane — the maximum sentence that a district court can impose — for the robbery on October 2, 2001.
Gunasegaran was initially charged with murder but the prosecution reduced his charge to causing hurt during robbery, taking into account that he had surrendered himself.
The court was told that Gunasegaran, then 16, was living with his sister at Block 205 Bukit Batok Street 21, and she had given him S$5 to buy instant noodles at a nearby shop.
He decided to take the chance to leave home — he was under a home detention scheme for prior offences of housebreaking and theft by night — and look for victims to rob. Before leaving, he took a knife measuring 26 to 28cm from the kitchen, wrapped it in a newspaper and tucked it into his pants.
Gunasegaran walked to Block 172 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, and spotted Soh San, a 28-year-old manager with telco M1, at the void deck. She had just returned home from work.
He followed her to the lift lobby and pressed the lift button. Right after that, he rubbed his knuckle against the button to remove his finger print.
When the lift arrived, he followed Soh inside and stood behind her. As the lift ascended to the fifth floor, Gunasegaran took out the knife and demanded money. His victim screamed for help and was stabbed in the arm during a struggle.
She then gave him S$30, but he was unsatisfied with the sum and tried to snatch her purse.
When Soh resisted, he flared up and stabbed her repeatedly on her arm and body. Bleeding profusely, she shouted at him to stop and eventually collapsed onto him.
Later, a neighbour found Soh’s body wedged between the lift door and the lift landing, metres away from her home. Soh was found with nine stab wounds — four were on her chest and abdomen — and died from her injuries.
Gunasegaran fled down the stairs and ran back to his sister’s house. Back home, he washed the knife and placed it into a knife holder.
He asked his friends to make arrangements for him to skip town, but a few months later, he told them that he did not have to leave the country anymore, since he had not been apprehended by the police.
Over the next decade, he led a life of crime. Between 2002 and 2011, he was jailed thrice for an array of offences — robbery, theft, housebreaking and causing grievous hurt.
Today, Deputy Public Prosecutor Bhajanvir Singh said that Gunasegaran had a violent nature and a propensity to commit property offences dating back to 1998, where he was sent to a juvenile home for theft.
“The attack was brutal. He did not hesitate to use extreme violence in the course of committing the robbery,” said the prosecutor. “He had initially stabbed the victim on her arm, and although the victim had already given him some money, he stabbed the victim again, this time on vital parts of her body in order to snatch her purse.”
Defence lawyer Ng Shi Yang, who represented Gunasegaran through the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, said that his client was truly remorseful, and had been haunted by his crime through the years. Gunasegaran was nervous and in a heightened state of anxiety, frequently hearing voices in his head condemning him and perceiving the scent of blood.
Ng said: “This is not a case where the accused was caught — he had a choice, and he came forward. It would have remained a cold case if he did not do so, but he surrendered because his crime plagued his conscience for over 10 years.” — TODAY