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Man slashes cook after demanding free roti prata, gets jail and caning

SINGAPORE: A jobless man slashed a cook with a knife and left a 4cm-long wound on his head after his repeated requests for free roti prata were turned down.

Murugan Joseph, 45, was sentenced on Friday (Feb 8) to 10 months and two weeks' jail, six strokes of the cane and a S$3,000 fine after the attack.

He pleaded guilty to five charges, including voluntarily causing hurt with a weapon, possessing a weapon, using insulting words, mischief and theft. Another three charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard Murugan and two friends, jobless man Balachandran Kothandapani, 58, and odd job worker Farizal Rahmat, 36, often went to a stall called Habib's Express at a coffee shop in Clementi for free food.

At about 5.15pm on Jul 29 last year, Murugan and Balachandran went back to the stall at Block 710, Clementi West Street 2, and ordered roti prata.

When it was ready, the stall assistant asked the men to pay, but they did not have any money.

Infuriated that the assistant would not give them any food as they had no cash, Murugan and Balachandran confronted him aggressively for more than 10 minutes, Deputy Public Prosecutor Shenna Tjoa said.

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They left the stall when it became clear to them that they were not getting any roti prata, and Murugan tossed the plates meant for the dish before he left.


Murugan returned with his friend Farizal about 15 minutes later and asked the stall assistant for food, but they were rejected again.

Returning to the stall a third time, Murugan and his two friends again asked for the free food. At this point, the cook, 33-year-old Revi Jose Vibin, stepped in.

The three men turned on him and Balachandran left the scene and came back with a 19.5cm-long knife, which Murugan had bought a few weeks earlier.

Murugan took the knife and slashed the cook on the left side of his head, leaving a V-shaped laceration that was 4cm long.

He was taken to hospital and warded, while the three men were arrested. A blood sample taken from Murugan showed that he had been intoxicated at the time of the attack.

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The court heard Murugan had been drinking alcohol 10 days before the incident, and called the police after losing track of the amount he had taken.

At around 12.30am on Jul 20 last year, Murugan phoned them and said: "I want police to arrest me. I got alcohol problem."

When two officers arrived at his home and asked him what happened, Murugan turned aggressive and cursed at them, shouting: "Either arrest me or I take knife".

The court was also told that on Feb 6 last year, Murugan was arrested for stealing a bottle of water at a 7-Eleven store in West Coast Drive.

He had shown up at the store at about 1.30am and tried to open the door of the fridge containing beer, but it was locked.

When Murugan shouted angrily at the cashier, demanding the beverage, the cashier told him that she was not allowed to sell alcohol at that hour.

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He grew angrier and hurled vulgarities at the woman, who called the police when he brandished a pen from the counter at her.

Murugan smashed a bottle of bird's nest drink on the floor beside the cashier counter and drank from a bottle of mineral water before placing it back on the display shelf.

The cases for his accomplices Balachandran and Farizal are pending before the courts.

Source: CNA/ll(mi)


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