JB court jails three behind death of Singaporean

In 2015, Ms Rita David and her Malaysian husband Letchumanan Shorubu were abducted by a gang of six men from their home in Malaysia, brutalised and driven to an oil palm plantation where Ms David's body was dumped.
In 2015, Ms Rita David and her Malaysian husband Letchumanan Shorubu were abducted by a gang of six men from their home in Malaysia, brutalised and driven to an oil palm plantation where Ms David's body was dumped.PHOTO: CHINA PRESS

She was beaten, stabbed and run over, while her husband was bound and left to die in a burning car.

Singaporean Rita David, 52, was found dead on the morning of Oct 10, 2015, in an oil palm plantation in Johor Baru. But her Malaysian husband, Mr Letchumanan Shorubu, survived and managed to identify three of their attackers.

On Wednesday, Malaysians Siva Vathu Malai, 24, Loga Nathan Valoo, 31, and Mohd Harith Abdullah, 45, pleaded guilty in a Johor Baru High Court to kidnapping with the intention to murder the couple.

The three men, who were among the six involved in the abduction, were sentenced to 12 years' jail.

They could have been sentenced to death or jailed for up to 30 years with the possibility of caning.

The other three accused have not been named and are still at large, reported Malaysia's The Star.

Court documents said that the couple's ordeal started at around 10pm the night before, when five people armed with knives approached them while they were getting out of their car at the parking space of their home at Palazio Apartments in Taman Mount Austin, about 30km from the Causeway.

The attackers beat Ms David and Mr Letchumanan, bound their hands and feet with tape and bundled them into the couple's sport utility vehicle (SUV) before driving to a temple in Kota Tinggi.

Court papers said that Mr Letchumanan saw one of the convicted men stab Ms David in the chest while in the car.

When they reached the temple, the couple were forced out of the car and beaten again.

They were driven to an oil palm plantation beside the temple, where Ms David was forced out of the car and, according to Mr Letchumanan, was run over by the SUV.

He was then taken to another oil palm plantation in Skudai, where he was left tied up in the car, which the attackers doused in petrol and set on fire.

Ms David's body was discovered at around 8.05am in a pool of blood. An autopsy report said that she died from multiple stab wounds.

Mr Letchumanan survived after he managed to break free from the bindings and sought help from a passerby who took him to a police station.

The court heard that a DNA analysis confirmed that Ms David's blood was found on the clothes of one of the three convicted.

Singapore's Consulate-General in Johor Baru also confirmed from Ms David's fingerprints that she was a Singaporean.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2017, with the headline 'JB court jails three behind death of Singaporean'. Print Edition | Subscribe