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Man convicted of murder to serve life sentence

SINGAPORE — An Indian national yesterday became the third convicted murderer to be sentenced to life in prison, escaping a death penalty.

Singapore

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SINGAPORE — An Indian national yesterday became the third convicted murderer to be sentenced to life in prison, escaping a death penalty.

Former shipyard worker Bijukumar Remadevi Nair Gopinathan, 37, was also ordered to be given 18 strokes of the cane for the killing of a Filipino prostitute.

He had been convicted of murdering Roselyn Reyes Pascua, who was found dead in a rented apartment room along Bencoolen Street in March 2010.

After changes to the Penal Code to give judges sentencing discretion in some murder cases came into effect this year, the case was sent to the High Court for resentencing. Previously, the death penalty was mandatory for all murder cases.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Adrian Loo yesterday did not object to a life imprisonment sentence for Gopinathan, as the prosecution noted a Court of Appeal finding that there was an element of doubt in the case.

The three Court of Appeal judges were not convinced by the prosecution’s case that Gopinathan had intended to kill Pascua, based only on the injuries inflicted. The court then quashed his conviction under Section 300(a), which involves acts carried out with the intention of causing death, but upheld his conviction under Section 300(c).

The mandatory death penalty is now applicable only to murders carried out with the intention of causing death, but discretionary for other clauses. There are four clauses to cover different categories of murder under the law.

Mr Loo, however, urged High Court Judge Choo Han Teck to order Gopinathan to be given 24 strokes of the cane because of the “extensive injuries” and “significant number of injuries” inflicted on the victim. While caning is not “ordinarily imposed” where the offender is suffering from an abnormality of mind, Mr Loo said there was no evidence to suggest this was the case for Gopinathan.

Defence lawyer Shashi Nathan countered that the “killing was not premeditated” and that his client was “provoked into stabbing the deceased”. Gopinathan had claimed that he stabbed Pascua out of anger after she attacked him and refused to return the money he had paid for her sexual services. Mr Nathan also said that his client does not have a history of violence or any criminal record. He felt that 12 to 15 strokes of the cane would be more appropriate .

Justice Choo did not elaborate on his reasons for the sentence, nor did he indicate he would issue a written judgment on the case.

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