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Man admits abducting wife on suspicion of affair; doused her with petrol and wanted to set her on fire

Man admits abducting wife on suspicion of affair; doused her with petrol and wanted to set her on fire

A motorist pumps petrol at a kiosk. (File photo: AFP/Fadel Senna)

SINGAPORE: Suspecting his wife was having an affair and intending to set her on fire before killing himself, a Malaysian man crossed the border into Singapore, abducted the 40-year-old woman and doused her with petrol.

The woman swallowed some liquid and had difficulty breathing, feeling burning sensations on her body and in her throat and stomach.

Police apprehended Murugan Nondoh, 40, at Tuas Checkpoint before he could leave the country with his wife. They had been alerted to the case as the victim's niece had stayed on a phone call with her and overheard everything Murugan did and said.

Murugan pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Sep 22) to four charges of abduction, criminal intimidation, voluntarily causing hurt and having an offensive weapon on him.

The court heard that Murugan was jobless and lived in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, at the time of the offences. His wife, a 40-year-old Malaysian, worked as a quality controller in Woodlands.

The couple married in 2007 in Malaysia, but the victim grew unhappy in the union as Murugan had a bad temper, gambling debts and was physically abusive.

In February 2019, she confided in her friend, saying she was lonely and did not have many friends. Her friend gave her a man's phone number, and the victim began chatting with him but did not meet him in person.

In March 2019, Murugan checked his wife's phone and saw a text message from the man, wishing her good morning. He made a video call to the man and asked for his name before hanging up.

Suspecting his wife was having an affair, Murugan confronted her, but she denied it as she had never met the man in person.

WIFE MOVED OUT, BUT HE KEPT CHECKING ON HER

Later that month, the victim moved to stay with her mother in Johor Bahru and filed for divorce, blocking Murugan's number.

He used different phone numbers to contact his wife, visiting his mother-in-law's house a few times and asking her to reconcile with him and meet him on their wedding anniversary.

After learning from a relative that his wife had begun working in Singapore, Murugan waited at the Malaysian checkpoint for four hours on five to six days in June 2019. He finally saw her on Jun 25, 2019, but she told him not to come near her before trying to run.

Murugan grabbed her bag and found her work permit with the address of her workplace. He took a photo of it while his wife sought help from police officers and retrieved her bag from him.

Two days later, Murugan sent voice messages to a friend saying that women like his wife "should not be alive at all" and that he would "confirm burn her 100%". In subsequent messages, Murugan told his friend he was "not going to let anyone have (the victim since) he cannot have her", and said he planned to find the victim in Singapore and kill her and himself.

Murugan also added that he intended to kill the victim's boyfriend if he caught him.

Before leaving Malaysia, he gave instructions to his friend on how to deal with his property and belongings. He rode his motorcycle from Johor Bahru to Singapore on Jun 28, 2019 and headed to his wife's workplace.

As she was not working that day, he applied for a job at her workplace and returned home. Over the weekend, he decided that he would look for her again and abduct her.

He told his friend that there was "no way but to kill (the victim)" and said this matter "should come out on newspapers" so that other women would fear being with "other women's husband" and everyone would think Murugan is "a real man".

HE RODE TO SINGAPORE AND FILLED A BOTTLE WITH PETROL

At 5.30am on Jul 1, 2019, Murugan rode his motorcycle to Singapore. He rode to a petrol station and filled an empty bottle with 2.34 litres of petrol.

The next day, Murugan went to his wife's workplace and saw her walking out at about 6pm. The victim was on the phone with her niece, telling her that Murugan had discovered where she worked and that she feared being harassed the minute she stepped out of her office building.

Murugan rode his motorbike towards his wife from behind and used his arm to grab her neck. In her struggle to break free, the victim dropped her phone and spectacles and shouted for help while trying to run away.

Murugan chased after her, grabbed her waist and pulled her towards him, noticing that passers-by were looking in their direction.

He then poured the entire bottle of petrol on his wife's head, with the liquid flowing over her body. The woman ingested some petrol while shouting for help.

Murugan told her that he would burn and kill her if she did not leave with him on the motorcycle. He said he had gone to Singapore to burn her and had no intention of going home.

SHE COMPLIED WITH HIS DEMANDS, FEARING FOR HER SAFETY 

Fearing for her safety and knowing that her husband carried lighters with him, the victim complied. Murugan picked up her spectacles and phone from the floor before riding off with her.

The victim felt unwell and had difficulty breathing as she had swallowed some petrol, and felt burning sensations in her throat and stomach and over her body.

After riding for a few metres, Murugan alighted and scolded his wife with words like "vagina" and "prostitute". He hit the victim's helmeted head with his own helmet, before punching her face and chest.

He then demanded that she unlock her phone, pointing a penknife at her, but his wife refused to. He then took a selfie of himself with his crying wife and sent it to his friend in Malaysia.

Unbeknownst to Murugan, the victim's niece was still on the phone call and had heard everything. She informed her brother and friend and they recorded the exchange.

Another relative then called the police about what happened and said she was very worried, entering Singapore shortly after to follow up with the report.

For the next five hours, Murugan rode around with his wife, stopping at various places including a cemetery and asking her why she had left him and whom she had been texting.

At their first stop, Murugan placed his wife's spectacles back on her and showed her the sari and dhoti they had worn at their wedding 12 years ago.

The victim thought that he wanted them both to put on their wedding outfits before he set them on fire, as she had seen similar scenes of suicide in movies.

HE CALLED HIS FRIEND AND SAID HE WAS GOING TO KILL HIS WIFE

Murugan then called his Malaysian friend and told him he was going to kill his wife and himself. His friend tried to dissuade him and spoke to the victim, asking her to talk things out with Murugan.

Murugan later agreed to take his wife back to Malaysia after she promised to reconcile with him and not cause him any problems.

They arrived at Tuas Checkpoint at about 11pm that day and tried to scan their passports and thumbprints to no avail.

Police officers arrived shortly after, arresting Murugan and rescuing the victim.

She was taken to a hospital's emergency department with bruises on her face and chest and diagnosed with "petroleum product ingestion".

Murugan and the victim are currently separated and undergoing divorce proceedings.

The prosecution is seeking a jail term of between three years and one month, and three years and seven months for Murugan.

He has been remanded since 2019 and will return to court for sentencing later this month.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)

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