Man admits to being part of trio who attacked cook with knife after not getting free prata

SINGAPORE - Feeling indignant after not getting free food at a prata stall, three men attacked the cook and left him with a slash wound on his head.

One of the attackers, Balachandran Kothandapani, 59, pleaded guilty in court on Thursday (March 28) to being part of the trio that assaulted Mr Revi Jose Vibin, 33. He also admitted to being in possession of the knife used in the attack last year.

The court heard that Balachandran, Farizal Rahmat, 35, and Murugan Joseph, 45, often went to the prata stall at Block 710, Clementi West Street 2, and demanded free food. Court documents did not state if the stall complied with their demands prior to the attack.

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On July 29 last year, the three men consumed alcohol at a nearby pavilion before heading for the eatery at 5.13pm.

Murugan and Balachandran approached Mr Revi's colleague and ordered prata but were not given any as they had no money.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Alexandria Shamini Joseph said: "When it became clear to Murugan and the accused that they were not getting any prata, they eventually left the stall. Murugan threw the plates for the prata onto the floor before he left."

Murugan and Farizal returned to the stall at around 5.30pm and were turned down a second time as they did not have enough money to pay for the food.

All three men returned about 10 minutes later and became angry when Mr Revi intervened.

They later followed the cook as he walked around the neighbourhood. Murugan and Farizal also tailed Mr Revi when he returned to the stall.

Balachandran left the scene for a short while before returning with a knife with a 19cm-long blade. The trio then confronted the Indian national.

The DPP told District Judge Mathew Joseph: "During the confrontation, the knife was passed around the group and the accused passed the knife to Murugan. Murugan, using the knife in his hand... then intentionally slashed the victim on the left side of his head."

Mr Revi managed to record the attack with his mobile phone and the video clip was played in court on Thursday.

It showed Murugan attacking him with the knife and Mr Revi clutching his head while blood dripped to the floor.

The police were alerted and the cook went to the National University Hospital where he was diagnosed with a facial wound. He was discharged the next day and given 14 days of medical leave.

The DPP told the court that Murugan had been dealt with in court and was sentenced to nine months' jail with six strokes of the cane.

He was later found to be unfit for caning and was ordered to spend another four months behind bars. The DPP asked the court to impose a similar sentence on Balachandran.

Anyone convicted of using a weapon to commit assault can be jailed for up to seven years and fined or caned.

Balachandran, who cannot be caned as he is over 50 years old, is expected to be sentenced on April 4. Farizal's case is still pending.