Man who tried to kill wife by suffocating her with plastic bag jailed 3 years, 3 months

SINGAPORE - Triggered by his wife nagging at him to resolve their son's marital problems, a 61-year-old jobless man decided to suffocate her.

Govindarajan Thiruvengadam Uthirapathy attacked her from behind, covered her head with a plastic bag and tightened it around her neck until she fell to the floor.

When he realised that she was unconscious but breathing, he took the gold chain around her neck, went straight to pawn it, then shared the spoils with his mistress.

On Monday (Nov 25), Govindarajan was sentenced to three years and three months' jail by the High Court after he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted culpable homicide.

A charge of theft for stealing his wife's gold chain and a wallet containing $300 was taken into consideration.

His wife, hospital nurse Ellapur Selvi Chanthenatever, 56, submitted a letter to the court pleading for leniency, saying that she has forgiven him.

The one year without her husband, who was remanded in custody after he was arrested in April last year, had been a "trying time" for her and their children, and caused her "many sleepless nights", she said.

The court heard that the couple married in 1985 and divorced in 1990, but remarried about 10 years later. They have a son, 33, and a daughter, 32.

On the afternoon of April 6 last year, Madam Ellapur asked Govindarajan to speak to their daughter-in-law, who believed that their son was having an extramarital affair.

After the phone call ended, Madam Ellapur complained to him about their son's problems, which angered Govindarajan as he felt she was pressuring him to resolve the issues.

He went to the kitchen to grab a plastic bag, measuring 84cm by 92 cm, returned to the living room and approached Madam Ellapur from behind while she was on the sofa watching television.

As he pulled the bag around her neck, he repeatedly told her to die and said that there was no point in living.

He stopped choking her only when she passed out. He removed the bag and tried to rouse her but she did not regain consciousness.

He helped himself to his wife's valuables, and left the flat without checking on her.

Madam Ellapur later regained consciousness and called her daughter.

After her daughter arrived, Madam Ellapur tearfully recounted the events but did not want to report the matter to the police.

In spite of what transpired, Madam Ellapur went to work as she was on the night shift.

At the hospital, the pain at her neck area and left side of abdomen intensified and she was hospitalised.

Later that night, she told the examining doctor what had happened to her.

She was hospitalised for seven days for tenderness over her chest and neck pain, and other medical conditions not related to the attack.

Meanwhile, Govindarajan pawned the chain for $4,250, spending $209 on gifts, including two gold nose studs for his Malaysian mistress, Ms Tanalechumi Subramaniam, 44.

He also gave her $300 and bought items for her aunt.

He planned to leave for Malaysia with Ms Tanalechumi on April 7, but was arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint.

He was found with only $200.50, and $3,791.90 remains unaccounted for.

On Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Woon Kwong sought a jail term of at least three years and three months.

The DPP argued that Govindarajan's decision to kill his wife over a minor disagreement was a disproportionate response, noting that he had attacked her from the back and went on to steal her valuables.

Defence counsel Raphael Louis asked for a jail term of not more than two years and four months, saying that Govindarajan, who has a history of mental illness, became overwhelmed and stressed when his wife nagged at him.

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