SINGAPORE - A 49-year-old former car washer, who was desperate for money to pay for his new flat in Johor Baru, strangled a grandmother he had known for a decade after she tried to stop him from stealing her jewellery worth about $10,000.
P. Mageswaran was on Thursday (May 11) convicted of one count of culpable homicide for grabbing the neck of Madam Kanne Lactmy, 62, and pressing a pillow over her face at her Yishun Street 81 flat on the morning of Dec 9, 2013.
After the killing, he made his way back to Johor Baru, where he lived, and pawned the stolen jewellery for RM26,300 (S$8,531), the High Court heard during his trial.
He used the money to pay the third loan instalment for his new Johor flat and bought various gifts for his Malaysian wife.
Eight days later, he got into an argument with his wife, who questioned the source of the money he had used to pay for their home and buy the gifts.
After Mageswaran lied that he got a loan from his employer, his wife insisted that they go to Singapore to speak to his employer about it. At the Woodlands checkpoint, Mageswaran was arrested.
Mageswaran used to work for Madam Lactmy's elder son between 2000 and 2004, and was invited to family gatherings. Even after he stopped working for her son, Mageswaran continued to borrow money from them.
On the morning of Dec 9, 2013, he asked his wife for the a document relating to their new flat, lying that he wanted to use it to convince his employer to lend him money to pay the RM5,000 instalment.
He left his rented flat in Johor and took a bus to Madam Lactmy's flat.
Surveillance footage from her block's void deck cameras showed him arriving at about 8.35am.
Mageswaran claimed he asked to borrow $2,000 to $3,000 from her but she said she did not have such large sums.
When she went to brush her teeth, Mageswaran searched the three bedrooms for valuables and found a box with jewellery and several pawnshop tickets in the master bedroom.
She caught him red-handed and demanded that he returned it. Mageswaran pleaded with her to let him have it and she told him she would call her son.
He pushed her to the floor, took a pillow from the bed and pressed it on her face with his right hand, while he choked her with his left. He released his grip on her neck after about four minutes but continued pressing the pillow over her face for another six to seven minutes until she stopped struggling.
Before walking down the stairs, he raised the hood of his jacket over his head and shielded his face from the surveillance cameras. He later threw away the jacket and went home.
Sentencing was adjourned to June 2. Mageswaran faces a maximum of life imprisonment and caning or up to 20 years' jail with caning or a fine.