Boon Lay slashing: Man admits attacking member of a wedding party with bread knife

Muhammad Sajid Saleem pleaded guilty to two charges, including one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt with weapons. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A man used a bread knife to attack a member of a wedding party in Boon Lay on April 6 as he was upset that the other man had been talking to his girlfriend.

Muhammad Sajid Saleem, 20, pleaded guilty to two charges on Wednesday, including one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt with weapons.

He also faced one count of being a member of a secret society between July 1, 2020 and Dec 30, 2021. Three other charges will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor R. Arvindren said Sajid became infuriated in February 2022 after his then girlfriend messaged a 23-year-old man, Mr Praveen Raj Chanthiran.

Sajid called Mr Praveen to tell him not to contact his girlfriend, sparking verbal disputes over the phone. After an argument in late March, Sajid planned an attack against Mr Praveen.

On April 5, Sajid told his friend, a 19-year-old man who was in the same secret society, that he wanted to attack Mr Praveen, who would be in Boon Lay Drive for the wedding of a mutual friend.

The pair bought two bread knives that were about 23.5cm long and headed to Block 175 Boon Lay Drive with the weapons on April 6.

They tracked Mr Praveen’s movements through his social media posts and saw him exiting a vehicle with others at about 4.50pm. The group had returned from the wedding and intended to continue celebrating at the groom’s block.

The duo ran towards Mr Praveen and Sajid swung the knife at the head of Mr Praveen, who blocked it with his hands. They then slashed their victim’s hand.

When a man from the wedding party, Mr Sarankumar Subramaniam, 22, shouted at the attackers, Sajid slashed him on the head.

They chased the fleeing Mr Praveen and slashed his upper torso and hands multiple times, and also kicked him.

When the shocked groom asked them why they had to ruin his wedding, Sajid’s accomplice wanted to slash him, but Sajid pulled him back as he did not have any dispute with the groom and did not want to harm him.

After fleeing the scene, they disposed of the knives in a rubbish chute and took a private-hire vehicle to the Woodlands home of a mutual friend, who gave Sajid a change of clothes so he could avoid police detection.

By that night, videos of the attack had gone viral on social media amid a manhunt for the duo. Aware it was only a matter of time before they were found, they surrendered to the police the next day.

The two victims were taken to the National University Hospital with multiple injuries.

Mr Praveen had wounds on his left shoulder, forehead, elbows and arms, as well as fractures in his left index finger, right elbow and left arm. He underwent three surgical operations and was given 118 days of hospitalisation leave.

Mr Sarankumar, who had a laceration on his scalp, was given 32 days of hospitalisation leave.

Describing the attack as hideous and citing the need for deterrence, DPP Arvindren asked the court to sentence Sajid to 39 months’ jail and six strokes of the cane.

He added that the day of the attack was supposed to be one to remember for the victims and the wedding couple, but it ultimately became a day to forget for everyone involved.

Sajid’s lawyer, Mr N. Divanan from Phoenix Law Corporation, asked the court to call for a report to determine his suitability for reformative training.

DPP Arvindren argued that even if the report were to show Sajid’s suitability for reformative training, the prosecution would stand by its position of calling for a jail sentence.

Reformative training involves detention in a centre with a strict regimen that can include foot drills and counselling.

District Judge Carol Ling called for the reformative training report. Sajid, who is in remand, will return to court on Nov 23 for sentencing.

For voluntarily causing grievous hurt with weapons, he can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined or caned. For the charge under the Societies Act, he can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $5,000.

The other youth is accused of being an accomplice in the slashing incident and being part of the same secret society between 2016 and April 2022.

He is expected to plead guilty to his charges on Nov 9. He cannot be named as he was only 14 years old in 2016. Those accused of committing offences before they turn 18 are covered under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.