SINGAPORE: Believing that his wife was having an affair, a man stabbed her multiple times in the shower and strangled her, before leaving her naked body on the bed, where his daughter later found her.
Krishnan Raju, a 53-year-old man who was suffering from delusional disorder, pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Jul 28) to one charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Sentencing will take place after a Newton hearing to determine how intoxicated he was at the time and whether this affected his actions.
The court heard that Krishnan, a self-employed bus driver ferrying factory workers and tourists, married his wife Raithena Vaithena Samy when she was 17.
He was "very possessive of her" throughout their relationship and marriage of 28 years, with their children noticing that he would keep tabs on where she went and who she was with.
Sometime in December 2016, the couple's relationship began deteriorating. Krishnan felt that his wife's attitude towards him had changed, thinking that she often came back drunk and late.
He also felt that she avoided him and made excuses not to have sex.
In January 2017, while his 44-year-old wife, an operations executive, went to Malacca for a company event, Krishnan showed up suddenly at her hotel and accused her of having an affair.
He had made this allegation often and in front of other family members, embarrassing Ms Raithena, so she said she wanted a divorce.
The pair had an argument later that year in October, with Krishnan taking a knife and threatening to commit suicide.
After this, Ms Raithena moved out of the master bedroom and slept in her daughter's bedroom. However, Krishnan was suspicious of her intentions and planted an audio recording device in the bedroom to listen to his wife's conversations.
THE DAY OF THE KILLING
On the night of Oct 26, 2017, Krishnan returned home after work and drank gin while listening to audio recordings he retrieved from the device.
He heard his wife mention a man's name, Saravanan, and heard her laughing. He believed that she was laughing at him and suspected that she was having an affair with Saravanan.
Unbeknownst to any of the family members, Ms Raithena had been having an affair with a male colleague since November 2016.
She returned home after work that night and went to the toilet in the master bedroom to take a shower.
By this time, Krishnan had drunk a full bottle of gin and was intoxicated. He took a knife from the kitchen sink and a hammer, and entered the toilet, where he stabbed his wife with the knife.
He then dragged her from the toilet to the bedroom, leaving a trail of blood, as he wanted her to listen to the audio recording.
Ms Raithena struggled and begged her husband to stop, but he stabbed her repeatedly with the knife, inflicting five stab wounds in her chest.
She fell on the bed and screamed, but her husband continued to stab and strangle her until she stopped moving.
Krishnan knew that his daughter was having dinner at her aunt's house and that her cousin would drive her home that night.
HE DELAYED HIS DAUGHTER'S RETURN, FLED TO MALAYSIA
Not wanting his daughter to discover her mother's body so soon, Krishnan sent a string of messages to his relative asking him to delay taking her home.
After this, Krishnan used the hammer to knock against an electric socket in the master bedroom, causing a blackout in the unit.
Before leaving, he heard his wife gasping for breath, and did not close the front door in his haste. That night, he sent a text message to his family members saying "forgave me".
He fled to Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and stayed with his brother that night while asking his relative to delay taking his daughter home.
At around 11pm, the daughter insisted on returning home and her cousin drove her there.
When she got to the unit, she saw that the door was open and the house was in complete darkness. As the lights did not work, she turned on the torchlight on her phone and entered the home, spotting a blood stain on the door of the master bedroom.
She called her cousin, who went to meet her, and they entered the master bedroom together by the lights of their phones.
They discovered Ms Raithena's naked body in a seated position on the floor between the wall and the bed.
The daughter became hysterical, and her cousin called the police before complying with directions from emergency medical services and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on his aunt until the police and paramedics arrived.
Krishnan returned to Singapore the next day and surrendered himself at Woodlands Checkpoint.
21 STAB WOUNDS FOUND
An autopsy on his wife uncovered five stab wounds to her chest, which resulted in rib fractures, with punctures in her lungs. She sustained 21 stab wounds in total to her body and face.
Dr Cheow Enquan, a psychiatrist with the Institute of Mental Health, examined Krishnan and found that he suffered from delusional disorder of a jealous type.
While Krishnan's wife had been having an affair, Dr Cheow found that Krishnan did not have any concrete evidence to conclude that his wife was unfaithful.
Even though he had no concrete evidence, the intensity and degree of Krishnan's belief that his wife was having an affair was evident from his actions.
He had stalked her since 2016, constantly checked her phone, accused her of having an affair in front of his relatives and a friend, checked her underwear and hid the audio device in his daughter's room.
Dr Cheow found evidence of distress and impairment of functioning, as Krishnan was so preoccupied with his wife's unfaithfulness that he could not cope with his driving jobs and started drinking heavily in the weeks leading up to the offence.
Dr Cheow also found that Krishnan was in a state of acute alcohol intoxication at the time of the offence, an opinion that differs from the defence psychiatrist's.
He found that Krishnan may have been suffering from an adjustment disorder with depressed mood, although this did not amount to a major depressive disorder.
THE MAN'S MENTAL STATE
Dr Cheow found that Krishnan's delusional disorder substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his acts in causing the death of his wife.
It "greatly affected his ability to make rational decisions as his judgement was impaired by his delusional belief that his wife was unfaithful to him" and affected his ability to exercise self-control, as such a belief "infuriated him beyond the usual limits of self-control", the court heard.
However, Dr Cheow found that the disorder did not affect Krishnan's ability to understand the nature of his actions.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Han Ming Kuang and Li Yihong asked for 12 years' jail, noting that Krishnan does not have previous convictions and that he was suffering from a mental disorder.
However, Ms Li said that "such a mental disorder cannot be invoked as a blanket excuse", adding that Krishnan had acted "with full knowledge of what he was doing and of the gravity of his actions".
"He chose how he wished to respond to his belief," said Ms Li. "A spouse's infidelity can never be the justification for violence."
She pointed out that Krishnan's actions after the killing demonstrated his awareness of what he had done, including trying to delay his daughter from returning home.
Defence lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan asked for not more than eight years' jail, pointing out that Krishnan's mental illness had a direct causal link to his offence.
He said the dominant sentencing principles should be rehabilitation and prevention, adding that Krishnan had agreed to go for treatment.
The court convened a Newton hearing to settle the issue of whether Krishnan had been in a state of acute intoxication at the time of the offence, and the extent that this contributed to it. A Newton hearing is conducted like a trial to settle disputes on issues that may affect the sentence.
For culpable homicide not amounting to murder, he can be jailed for life. He cannot be caned as he is above 50.
Editor's note: This story has been edited to remove the name of the accused's daughter.