Hike sentence

Life sentence, caning for man who stabbed Punggol jogger to death in anger over Nova Scotia draft and father leaving family

SINGAPORE – While on his regular run during the partial Covid-19 lockdown period on May 10, 2020, Surajsrikan Diwakar Mani Tripathi tripped and fell near a bus stop along Punggol Field Road.

That date left the 20-year-old frustrated and angry because two years prior he had enlisted for national service that day.

His father had also abandoned his family on the same day in 1999 while his mother was still pregnant with him.

Shortly after tripping, Surajsrikan chased a 38-year-old stranger who ran past him, then used his Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Swiss army knife to forcefully stab the other man from behind.

The victim, Tay Rui Hao, died in hospital from multiple stab wounds shortly afterwards. Surajsrikan fled the scene before being arrested at his apartment about a week later.

Surajsrikan, now 22, was sentenced by the High Court on Thursday (September 15) to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to Tay’s murder under Section 300(c) of the Penal Code.

The offense is punishable by either life imprisonment or the death penalty. Prosecutors did not ask for the latter.

WHAT HAPPENED

Tay’s family members were present in the courtroom when the court heard details of what happened that day.

Tay, who lived in Punggol with his wife, started jogging two to three times a week when the circuit breaker or semi-lockdown period for the Covid-19 outbreak started a month earlier. He worked as an assistant manager at the Nike retail store in Changi City Point Mall.

Surajsrikan lived in a Housing and Development Board flat along Sumang Walk Lane with her extended family. He was a regular runner and strictly adhered to his routine to avoid regaining the weight he had previously lost.

That evening, Surajsrikan brought his SAF knife and wet wipes on his run.

While running, he tripped and fell near a bus stop along Punggol Field Road. He then paced the area for five minutes to calm his anger.

When Tay ran past around 11 p.m., an angry Surajsrikan unfolded his knife, chased the older man, and forcefully stabbed him in the back, knocking him down.

Tay then rolled forward and faced Surajsrikan, raising his arm in an attempt to sit up. Surajsrikan then slashed and stabbed Tay’s arm before stabbing him multiple times in the chest and abdomen.

He then ran to the bus stop and did not call the police or an ambulance.

He returned to his neighborhood, wiping the blood from his hands with the wet wipes, and wandered around for about an hour and a half while avoiding others.

He tossed the wet wipes onto the empty deck of a public housing building before returning home, only telling his family that he was late because he had fallen down while jogging. He also washed the knife with soap.

At the scene of the stab wounds, Tay called 995. When paramedics arrived at the scene, they found him lying on the grass and bleeding profusely.

He was still alert but then lost consciousness, before dying of his injuries at Sengkang General Hospital around 12:30 a.m.

Surajsrikan was arrested on May 16, 2020. Authorities identified him through police camera footage, which showed him wandering around the neighborhood with a knife.

An autopsy report showed he had stabbed Tay four times.

PSYCHIATRIC PROBLEMS

When Surajsrikan was examined at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), a psychiatrist diagnosed him with severe social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and a learning disability.

Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPP) Andre Chong and Han Ming Kuang told the court that these mental illnesses were not the cause of his actions but had a serious and deleterious effect on his socio-professional and academic functioning.

This led to feelings of low mood and anger, but his symptoms were not sufficient to qualify him for a diagnosis of depressive disorder.

Previously, he had been found to have borderline or low intelligence, but the IMH psychiatrist did not find that he had an intellectual disability. He also did not have a psychotic disorder.

“THE PUNISHMENT WILL NOT RECALL THE VICTIM”

DPPs Chong and Han pleaded for the maximum 24 strokes as well as life imprisonment for Surajsrikan.

Prosecutors have advanced four aggravating circumstances, including Surajsrikan acting with premeditation rather than impulse. They also noted the brutal manner of the murder and his actions afterward, which showed a lack of remorse.

The fact that it took place during the circuit breaker period “caused significant public concern”, the prosecution said.

In mitigation, Surajsrikan’s lawyer, Edmond Pereira, said his client offered no apologies for what he did, but did not plan to harm anyone. . Rather, he had intended to harm himself, the defense attorney said.

Mr Pereira told the court that Surajsrikan had dropped out of school and felt anxiety around crowds, remaining alone even at home. Since his arrest, he has been placed in solitary confinement in an individual cell.

His stint in national service was “quite short due to his behaviour”, including using a hammer to smash a communication set and a glass table, Mr Pereira revealed. He was later downgraded for medical reasons and later fired from SAF.

Due to these circumstances, the lawyer urged High Court Judge Dedar Singh Gill not to impose caning or a lower number of beatings.

“Something happened that triggered it. It was a senseless and cruel murder – we cannot dispute that. His family is in mourning with the family of the deceased,” Mr. Pereira said.

Sentencing Surajsrikan, Judge Gill told the court that while the sentence will not bring Tay back or “erase the memories of that painful episode”, he hoped it would “offer some sort of closure” to the members of Tay’s family.

“I also hope that the defendant will conscientiously continue to take medication in prison,” added Judge Gill.