SINGAPORE: Haunted by guilt for 12 years, Gunasegaran Ramasamy confessed in 2013 to a crime he had committed when he was just 16 - the killing of Ms Soh San, whose body was found riddled with stab wounds.
The 2001 case had remained unsolved for more than a decade.
Gunasegaran, 32, was sentenced to 10 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane on Monday (Mar 20), 16 years after the crime. He pleaded guilty to one count of causing hurt while committing robbery and one count of consuming methamphetamine.
On Oct 2, 2001, Gunasegaran’s sister asked him to buy some noodles from a stall near their flat at Block 205 Bukit Batok Street 21.
Gunasegaran, then 16, decided he would use the opportunity to rob someone. He armed himself with a 26cm-long kitchen knife and walked around the neighbourhood in search of a victim.
He spotted Ms Soh, 28, between 8pm and 9pm at Block 172 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8. Ms Soh, a manager at M1, was on her way home from work.
Gunasegaran followed Ms Soh into the lift, careful to rub his fingerprint off the button. In the lift, he pulled out the knife and demanded money, not expecting her to scream for help and struggle to get away.
He stabbed her, and she handed over three S$10 notes. But Gunasegaran was not satisfied and attempted to grab Ms Soh’s purse. She refused to give it up and a struggle ensued.
Angered, Gunasegaran stabbed her repeatedly until she collapsed onto him. When the lift doors opened at the fifth storey - just metres from Ms Soh’s front door - her body fell out of the lift.
She landed face-down, half her body on the lift landing and her legs still inside the lift, jamming the doors.
Gunasegaran fled the scene. He later asked some friends to make arrangements for him to flee the country, but they never did.
He spent the next decade in and out of prison for a host of other offences, including housebreaking, robbery and assault.
On Nov 17, 2013, having been plagued by guilt for 12 years, he walked into Jurong East Neighbourhood Police Centre and confessed to the killing.
Methamphetamine was found in urine samples collected after his arrest.
SENSELESS VIOLENCE, BRUTAL ATTACK: PROSECUTOR
Deputy Public Prosecutor Bhajanvir Singh urged the court to sentence Gunasegaran to 10 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane for his act of “senseless violence”. The robbery was premeditated and the attack brutal, Mr Singh said. An autopsy showed Ms Soh was stabbed nine times and died from wounds to her chest and abdomen.
The prosecutor also pointed to Gunasegaran’s lengthy criminal record, which revealed his “character and attitudes”.
Lawyer Ng Shi Yang, who defended Gunasegaran under the legal aid scheme, said the man has been “plagued by his conscience” and the crime was a “robbery gone awry”.
After the killing, Gunasegaran heard “voices” telling him to reflect on what he had done, and sometimes smelled blood, which reminded him of the incident, a psychiatric report said. In the end, “guilt and his conscience caught up with him”, and he decided to confess in November 2013, a month after he was released from prison for assault, Mr Ng said.
He pointed out that had Gunasegaran not confessed to the crime, Ms Soh’s killing would have remained a cold case. Gunasegaran is remorseful, and hopes his confession and plea of guilt will “give (Ms Soh’s) family a real prospect of closure and healing”, Mr Ng said.
For causing hurt while committing robbery, Gunasegaran could have been sentenced to up to 20 years’ jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane.