25-year-old man jailed for taking part in group attack that left another man dead

For rioting, Raja could have been jailed for seven years and caned.
For rioting, Raja could have been jailed for seven years and caned.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A 25-year-old man was jailed for three years and six months on Monday for taking part in group attack on New Year's Day two years ago that led to the death of a 28-year-old man.

Raja Arul, a work pass holder working as a pipe fitter at the time, pleaded guilty to one charge of rioting.

He was part of a group of seven who had attacked another group of the same size in Jurong Lake Park on Dec 31, 2012. All are Indian nationals.

The court heard that at about 10pm on Dec 31, mechanical technician Boobalan Palanikumar, 28, arrived at a pavilion in the park with his friends to celebrate the new year.

Eventually, the first group became drunk and some of the men started to shout Tamil vulgarities, but directed at no one in particular.Raja and his friends were also there for the same purpose.

Raja Arul was jailed for three years and six months on Monday, Oct 5, 2015. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

The second group, annoyed with the first, moved away from them but stayed within the pavilion as it was raining.

Sometime after midnight, unhappy with Raja's group for staring at them, one of Boobalan's friends confronted the second group.

The two groups then separated and left the pavilion. But, offended by vulgarities used by the Boobalan's group, one of Raja's friends suggested beating them up.

Five of the men armed themselves by breaking long wooden pole supports from tree saplings in the garden.

The men, including Raja, who was not armed, then ran towards the other group and started to hit them.

Boobalan, who was lying on the ground as he was drunk, was struck on his head and body.

The attack lasted for about a minute. An eyewitness called the police.

When officers arrived at 1.16am, they found four men lying in different locations in the park with various injuries.

Boobalan was found motionless and bleeding profusely from a head wound.

He was deeply comatose when he arrived in hospital, with extensive skull fractures and a very swollen brain. He died the next day.

One of his friends suffered fractures to his eye socket and frontal sinus, while another had a dislocated joint between the two bones of the forearm.

Two other friends had lacerations to their skulls. Another two managed to escape injury.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim How Khang urged the court on Monday to impose a four year jail term for Raja, with five strokes of the cane.

But Raja's lawyer James Selvaraj called for a jail term of not more than three years, with no caning. He noted that the attack was not premeditated, and that Raja's role in the attack was minor as he had only pushed a man down.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur agreed that caning was not appropriate.

Raja's jail sentence was backdated to Jan, 3, 2013, when he was first charged in court.

Raja and four of the other alleged attackers were originally charged with murder, but later had their charges amended.

The four, aged between 28 and 34, now face charges of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons, and voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons.

Their case will be heard at a later date. If convicted, they face up to life imprisonment and caning.

Another two suspects involved in the attack left Singapore on Jan 4, 2013, and have remained at-large.

For rioting, Raja could have been jailed for seven years and caned.