A dispute between two well-known North Bridge Road Indian-Muslim restaurants turned into a violent vendetta when the owner of one eatery allegedly hired a supposed secret society chief to slash a rival's face.
Singapore Zam Zam owner Zackeer Abbass Khan allegedly paid $2,000 to alleged Sio Ang Koon secret society headman Anwer Ambiya Kadir Maideen, who owns As-Safeera Restaurant in Serangoon.
He, in turn, allegedly told gang member Joshua Navindran Surainthiran, 23, to carry out the vicious assault, which left Victory Restaurant supervisor Liakath Ali Mohamed Ibrahim with a permanent scar. The victim, who previously worked for Zam Zam from 1985 to 2004, had a 7cm cut over his right upper lip, extending to his cheek.
Joshua, who pleaded guilty to five out of 10 charges - including for using criminal force against a policewoman and spitting on her in a separate incident - was on Tuesday sentenced to 61/2 years' jail and six strokes of the cane.
Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Mr Liakath, who was given 10 days of medical leave, said he is still suffering after the attack.
"I have headaches that are quite unbearable. Sometimes, I cannot feel anything around the area where my scar is," he said. "When the attack happened, it felt as if someone threw a stone at my head."
The attack had its roots in an incident which took place on Aug 22 last year. Mr Liakath, 52, was standing outside Victory touting for customers. When a policeman came by at about 6pm, Mr Liakath said he was only copying what staff from Zam Zam did.
Zam Zam employee Koleth Navas, 29, overheard this. An argument broke out and the officer told them to stop before leaving.
Shortly after, Zackeer, 45, allegedly threatened Mr Liakath that he would "do him" within a week. Navas and Zam Zam's chef supervisor, Koleth Abdul Nasir, 41, both also allegedly threatened Mr Liakath.
Zackeer allegedly called Anwer, 46, who in turn called Joshua. Joshua then asked his elder brother, alleged gang member Joel Girithiran Surainthiran, 24, to help. Joshua also asked his friend, Ramge Visvamnathan, 19, to act as a lookout.
The next day, Joshua and Joel met Anwer, who showed them a picture of Mr Liakath. The brothers went to Golden Landmark Hotel, near Victory and Zam Zam, so that they could observe Mr Liakath's movements.
At about 9.50pm, they trailed him to Little India MRT Station, but failed to carry out the attack.
On Aug 26, Joshua and Joel sat on a bench overlooking Victory's rear door, while Ramge stayed at the junction of North Bridge Road and Arab Street to watch the eatery's main entrance.
At about 9.50pm, Joshua and Joel saw Mr Liakath walking along Arab Street towards Rochor Canal Road and Little India MRT station.
They caught up with him at the junction of Rochor Canal Road and Sungei Road. Joshua swung a knife at Mr Liakath's face.
Although the weapon was partially deflected by the victim's cap, there were deep cuts to his nose and right upper lip. The attackers fled after the attack.
Joel, Ramge, Zackeer, Anwer, Koleth Navas and Koleth Abdul Nasir have been charged with engaging in a conspiracy to cause grievous hurt to Mr Liakath and/or threatening him.
Their cases are at a pre-trial stage.
•Additional reporting by Rahimah Rashith