Fugitive of 13 years caught after using another man's IC

Impersonator nabbed in hospital after encounter with man whose identity he used

A man who attacked a newspaper vendor with a blade and managed to evade the authorities for 13 years was caught this year after he repeatedly used a photocopy of a stranger's NRIC when registering for medical services.

By chance, the rightful owner of the NRIC, Mr Chandran Sinathanmby, bumped into the offender, James Nalla Rajan Naidu Adhiseshan, at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH) on Feb 25 and spotted him using the photocopied document at a registration counter.

Mr Chandran alerted a hospital employee, who called the police.

Naidu, 58, was sentenced yesterday to 1½ years' jail after pleading guilty to two counts of cheating by personation, and an unrelated assault charge.

It all started on Jan 28, 2006, when the Singaporean slashed newspaper vendor Devakumar Gopal Kri's neck with a "sharp blade" following an argument in Depot Road.

Police arrested Naidu but he absconded while out on bail.

On the run, he obtained Mr Chandran's NRIC. The two men did not know each other and the court heard that Mr Chandran had lost the card "many years ago". Court documents did not reveal how Naidu got hold of it.

Naidu then pasted a slip of paper with his own address onto the NRIC before making photocopies of it.

 

On Aug 11, 2017, Naidu fell off his bicycle and visited Sengkang Polyclinic three days later. He posed as Mr Chandran after presenting the photocopied NRIC at a registration counter.

On Nov 12 that year, Naidu was at home when the battery of his e-bike caught fire and emitted smoke, Deputy Public Prosecutor Chew Xin Ying said.

He had difficulty breathing and was taken to the Singapore General Hospital where he again presented a photocopy of Mr Chandran's NRIC.

When Naidu later fractured his foot, he went to SKH for treatment.

On Feb 18 this year, Mr Chandran received a text message from SKH about a medical appointment and went to the hospital a week later.

He was surprised when a doctor asked him about a foot fracture as he had not suffered such an injury. The doctor then advised him to lodge a police report.

Mr Chandran was still at the hospital when he spotted Naidu in a wheelchair and offered to assist him with his registration. They were at a counter when Mr Chandran spotted the photocopied NRIC.

The police were alerted. Naidu tried to get away but hospital security detained him.

For each count of cheating by personation, he could have been jailed for up to five years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Fugitive of 13 years caught after using another man's IC'. Print Edition | Subscribe