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Jail and cane in first Little India riot court sentence

A former construction worker who rallied other rioters has been sentenced to 30 months' jail and three strokes of the cane for rioting and setting a bus on fire in Little India last year.

SINGAPORE: A former construction worker has been given 30 months' jail and three strokes of the cane for rioting in Little India in December last year.

Ramalingam Sakthivel, a 33-year-old Indian national, was the first to plead guilty and be sentenced for rioting.

Sakthivel rallied those around him at Race Course Road to flip a police car, and threw projectiles at the police on 8 December 2013.

He also hit a Singapore Civil Defence Force ambulance repeatedly with a pole and tried to set a bus on fire - the one which had knocked down and killed another Indian worker, Sakthivel Kumaravelu.

The maximum jail terms for rioting and mischief by fire are seven years each.

But Deputy Presiding Judge Jennifer Marie said the court recognises that it should not rigidly apply to sentencing guidelines or benchmarks.

The offences that night were not committed in isolation, she noted, which is why the court considered the circumstances surrounding his actions, rather than focus on his deeds.

The judge gave Sakthivel 30 months' jail and three strokes of the cane for rioting and 27 months' jail for mischief by fire.

Both sentences will run concurrently.

Sakthivel's lawyers said the sentence is fair.

The start of his jail term will be backdated to 8 December 2013 - the day he was remanded.

The judge also considered Sakthivel's plea for a lighter sentence.

These include him being a first-time offender, and that he has shown remorse.

But the judge also said Sakthivel was no meek follower during the riot. She said his conduct and actions were deliberate and relentless. 

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