Public Prosecutor v Sivakumar s/o Kurusamy Pandian

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeMPH Rubin JC
Judgment Date12 July 1993
Neutral Citation[1993] SGHC 162
Citation[1993] SGHC 162
Published date01 November 2012
Plaintiff CounselSheik Mustafa Bin Abu Hassan and Shaiffudin Bin Saruwan (Deputy Public Prosecutors)
Defendant CounselJohn Abraham (John Abraham) and Ahmad Khalis Bin Abdul Ghani (Wong Khalis & Junaini) (AC) (both assigned)

Judgment:

Coram: Rubin JC

GROUNDS OF DECISION

The charge

Sivakumar s/o Kurusamy Pandian (`Sivakumar') known sometimes as `K' was charged for having committed murder by causing the death of one Peter s/o Martin (`Peter Martin') on or about 20 December 1991 at about 1.35am outside a 7-Eleven store (`7-Eleven') at Block 501 Jurong West Street 51, Singapore. He was 22 at the time of the alleged offence.

Summary of facts

2 On 20 December 1991 at about 1.38am, the police were informed that there was an incident outside 7-Eleven. Upon arrival, police officers found Peter Martin, a boy of 17, lying injured near a bus-stop situated 50 metres away from 7-Eleven. He was found to have a stab wound in his right abdomen and was immediately conveyed to the National University Hospital where he underwent an emergency operation. Despite heroic attempts to save him, he succumbed to the injury and died at 5.30pm that day.

3 Two days or so prior to the incident, the accused Sivakumar was accosted by Ravichandran s/o Arumugam (`Ravichandran') (PW-10) (nicknamed `Kolaikaran' which meant murderer in Tamil) in the vicinity of 7-Eleven and was warned in dire terms that Ravichandran would `put two holes' (a gangland parlance for stabbing) on Sivakumar for assaulting one Dass, a friend of Ravichandran. During the run-in, Sivakumar was subjected to much humiliation when Ravichandran grabbed Sivakumar's throat. All this took place when Sivakumar was in the company of his girlfriend. The deceased, Peter Martin who had nothing to do with either Ravichandran or Sivakumar happened to be an innocent onlooker at that point in time.

4 Sivakumar complained about the conduct of Ravichandran to his friends. Awtar Singh s/o Surat Singh (`Awtar Singh') was one amongst them. On 19 December 1991, Sivakumar and Awtar Singh had a chance meeting with Ravichandran at 7-Eleven when Ravichandran issued yet another warning to Sivakumar and told him and his friend to meet him at Tengah Market for a `settlement talk' the following day. Sivakumar related the event to another friend of his known as Michael. In the event, on the night of 19 December 1991, a group of about 14 persons (led by Michael) decided to look out for Ravichandran at 7-Eleven. Sivakumar was armed with a knife for that venture.

5 The group's attempt to parley with Ravichandran was unsuccessful. An advance party from the group which endeavoured to meet up with Ravichandran failed because, Ravichandran ran away the moment he sensed danger.

6 Eventually, the group returned to 7-Eleven at about 1.30am on 20 December 1991. Peter Martin, who was unrelated to the goings on between Sivakumar and Ravichandran, was seated outside 7-Eleven. Sivakumar had seen him on the occasion when he was confronted by Ravichandran. Two persons from Sivakumar's group kicked and assaulted Peter Martin when they were informed by Sivakumar that Peter Martin was present when Ravichandran humiliated him. Those who assaulted Peter Martin momentarily left to deal with a few onlookers who were shouting and telling them not to fight.

7 Sivakumar alleged that shortly after his friends had left to confront the onlookers, he was surprised by a sudden punch on his face by Peter Martin, which staggered Sivakumar momentarily causing him to fall. Peter Martin also uttered some abusive words suggesting that Sivakumar was a bastard. Sivakumar instantly whipped out a knife, stabbed Peter Martin in his abdomen and quickly fled the scene with his companions. He claimed that he stabbed Sivakumar in the heat of the moment. Subsequent investigations resulted in the arrest of four persons including Sivakumar. In the event, Sivakumar was the only person charged with the offence of murder (the others on lesser charges before a different court) and was convicted. My grounds follow.

Prosecution evidence

8 Tan Ah Tee (PW-4), a seafood restaurant owner who had his place of business at Block 504 Jurong West Street 51, his partner Tang Chia Oi (PW-5), his friends Tan Chwee Liew (PW-6) and one Ah Seng decided, after close of business to have some refreshment and a chat outside 7-Eleven situated not far away from the restaurant. They arrived at 7-Eleven at about 1.15am on 20 December 1991. They bought some soft drinks and as they were stepping out of the store, Tan Ah Tee noticed three male Indians chasing another male Indian youth outside the store. The youth was seen running in the direction of the main road, pursued by the three Indians.

9 Upon seeing that, Tan Ah Tee yelled at them in Malay not to fight. While he was still looking in the direction where the male Indian youth was running, he noticed about eight to ten male Indians rushing at him and his friends and attacked them. Tan Ah Tee was punched on the face by two of them and as a result he became dizzy and fell. Shortly thereafter he regained consciousness and realised what had happened. Presently he ran into 7-Eleven and requested the female store assistant to call for the police. As he came out he saw a few of the male Indians running away. The police and ambulance arrived. Tan Ah Tee learnt later that the male Indian youth who was being chased earlier by three of the assailants had been stabbed.

10 Tan Ah Tee's narration of the events was corroborated by Tang Chia Oi in all material respects by his deposition as well as oral testimony. He confirmed that Tan Ah Tee cried out in Malay to the male Indians not to fight and consequently about ten male Indians rushed at them. He said at least two of the male Indians were armed with chairs and one was holding a sharp object. Tang Chia Oi added that he too sustained slight injuries on his right shin. He saw Tan Ah Tee and two others lying on the floor and did not know why the group had attacked them.

11 Tan Chwee Liew gave the court a similar account as that of Tan Ah Tee and Tang Chia Oi. He was also attacked and he too became dizzy and fell.

12 Police Sergeant Raymond Lazaroo (PS-15) and Police Constable Wan Chin Hsiang (PS-16) deposed that upon being informed of an incident near 7-Eleven, they arrived at the scene at about 1.01am on 20 December 1991 where they found Peter Martin lying injured and groaning in pain. An ambulance was summoned. The ambulance officer Leow Huan Chin (PS-17) arrived at the scene at 1.56am. The injured was drowsy and had a stab wound on the right side of his abdomen. Pressure bandage was applied and the injured was consequently conveyed to the National University Hospital at 2.05am the same day.

13 The next material witness was Assoc Prof Steven Chan (PW-8) from the National University Hospital's Department of Surgery. He testified that on 20 December 1991 at about 2.05am, he attended to Peter Martin for injuries sustained by the lad. His medical report admitted in evidence as exh P-26 stated that Peter Martin was found to have been stabbed in the right upper quadrant of his abdomen. The report mentioned that when Peter Martin was brought into the Accident and Emergency Unit, he was noted to have unrecordable blood pressure accompanied by a very weak pulse and shallow respiration. Resuscitation was immediately commenced and although the blood pressure at one point recorded a reading of 84/50 mm Hg, the patient became unstable again. The blood pressure was once again unrecordable and he ceased breathing. As a result the patient was intubated and rushed to the operating theatre.

14 Laparotomy (incision into the abdominal cavity) was performed in parallel with continued fluid and blood resuscitation. The peritoneal cavity was full of fresh blood. The injuries were consistent with the stab wound having extended from the abdominal wall, through the edge of the right lobe of the liver, into the lesser sac, head of pancreas and traversing the anterior and posterior walls of the superior mesentric vein. In addition multiple surrounding vessels were torn. Attempts to control the continued haemorrhage were made and the last heroic attempt to halt the bleeding was made by doing a resection of the pancreas. Despite all the efforts, the patient's immediate post-operative course remained unstable. The blood flow continued and the clotting factor was absent. He died at 5.30pm the same day. 15 Prof Chan was of the opinion that the injury suffered by Peter Martin was a severe one and that the lad had no chance of survival.

16 Dr Paul Chui (PW-11), the Forensic Pathologist in his autopsy report concluded that the deceased was a healthy, well nourished Indian teenager and that there was no natural disease that caused or contributed to the event of his death. The pathologist testified that the stab wound of the nature sustained by the deceased would, in the ordinary course of nature, cause death and that death was directly due to the stab wound to the abdomen.

17 Ravichandran, without whose bellicose confrontation with Sivakumar, the present incident might not have come about, gave evidence for the prosecution.

18 The material part of his evidence both oral and depositional, was to the following effect. Sometime at about 11.00pm on 16 December 1991, he cautioned Sivakumar not to molest or assault his ward, one Dass. When he warned Sivakumar, he did so by gripping his throat. Ravichandran also happened to meet Sivakumar on 18 December 1991. This time Sivakumar was accompanied by Awtar Singh. An argument ensued. The upshot was that he made it known to them to have a `settlement talk' with him on 20 December 1991 at Tengah Market. Awtar Singh suggested the time to be between 7.00 and 7.30pm. However on 19 December 1991 at about 11.00pm when Ravichandran was seated on a bench with Clarence s/o Selvarajoo (`Clarence') (PW-12) near Block 534 Jurong West Street 52, Mohamed Ansari s/o Dalbader Maricar (`Ansari') (DW-2), a friend of Sivakumar and two other male Indians attacked him. Ravichandran managed to flee from them. Speaking about the deceased, he said that he was not acquainted with him but had seen him around in the vicinity of...

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