Stab victim testifies against spurned man

Attempted murder trial: Victim heard saying 'yes' to marriage in audio clip defence played

"If I can't have you, then no man should have you."

A nurse claimed her alleged assailant uttered those words during a knife attack in 2013 that left her permanently scarred.

The 23-year-old victim took the stand in the High Court yesterday for the first time in the trial of her alleged attacker, Varadharajan Mahadevan Mahadevan, 33, who faces a charge of attempted murder.

The victim cannot be named due to a gag order.

She was composed when testifying, but broke into sobs when asked to tell the court how the incident affected her and her family.

Varadharajan, a healthcare assistant from India, does not dispute stabbing her.

However, he claims that he had done so while attempting suicide.

The defence's position is that the pair - who met while the victim was attached to the hospital where he worked - were in an intimate relationship, with marriage on the cards.

The victim, who was then studying to be a nurse, yesterday said they exchanged phone numbers as she was going to India for a holiday, and he told her that he was familiar with the places there.

After she returned, he became "mushy" towards her, she said.

Although he knew she had a boyfriend, Varadharajan confessed his feelings for her.

She said she decided to "play along" with Varadharajan, but when he took it seriously, she decided to stop and told him that she treated him only as a friend.

However, Varadharajan refused to accept the rejection and harassed her with repeated phone calls, she said. If she did not answer, he would harass her friends.

Once, he pulled her hand and tried to kiss her in the staff room of the hospital, but she avoided it and scolded him, she said.

Another time, he became aggressive after she told him that it was a joke all along, apologised and told him to forget everything. She had to shout at him to let her go.

On the morning of Dec 20, 2013 - a day after he was rejected by her parents when he turned up outside their flat to propose marriage - Varadharajan grabbed her at the void deck of her block as she was leaving for school.

When she refused to follow him for a talk, he stabbed her repeatedly, telling her to "die" in Tamil, she said in court.

On hearing her cries, her parents rushed down. Varadharajan fled, but was caught by passers-by.

Sobbing, the victim told the court: "My life has changed a lot after the incident."

As a nurse, she has to tie up her hair, exposing the scars on her neck, which attract questions from patients.

"The questions make me remember what happened, which is very painful and traumatising."

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Rengarajoo Rengasamy Balasamy asked if she had argued with his client because she thought he was cheating on her.

She replied that she had accused him of cheating on her to create an excuse to "get rid of him".

The defence also played audio recordings of conversations between Varadharajan and the victim, suggesting that they had been discussing marriage.

In one clip, Varadharajan was heard saying in Tamil: "People who are not introduced to each other before, they have to see the horoscope...

"Both of us are going to have a love marriage, right? Do you have the intention or not?"

The victim was heard replying: "Yes".

In another clip, Varadharajan was heard saying: "The kiss you've given me is enough.

"That one thing is enough and I will not cheat you."

The victim continues on the witness stand today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'Stab victim testifies against spurned man'. Print Edition | Subscribe