Convicted murderer escapes the gallows; third such case in Singapore after changes in law

A 37-year-old man who stabbed a Filipino prostitute to death while allegedly robbing her on Wednesday became the third convicted murderer here to be sentenced to life imprisonment instead of the death penalty.

He was also given 18 strokes of the cane.

Bijukumar Remadevi Nair Gopinathan's case had been sent back to the High Court for re-sentencing following changes to the law this year which give judges the option of handing down a life imprisonment for certain categories of murder. He had been convicted last March and his appeal dismissed six months later.

Asking for leniency, Gopinathan's lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan said that his client had been provoked and had not planned the murder. But Deputy Public Prosecutor Adrian Loo said that the amount of violence involved - the victim had been stabbed multiple times in the chest, abdomen, neck and genital area - should be considered.

Gopinathan was among some 30 condemned prisoners given a lifeline when hangings were put on hold pending a review of the mandatory death penalty which started in July 2011. These other cases are still pending.