Nabbed fugitive jailed for cheating woman

A man who jumped bail and was a fugitive from law for more than two years was rearrested when he went to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital for treatment.

Yesterday, Kumar Rajamanickam was sentenced to two years' jail for conning a woman into handing over cash and jewellery worth almost $20,000 to him.

He had pleaded guilty to the charges in 2013 and was given time to make restitution. Instead, he jumped bail and was not arrested until February this year - when he went to hospital for treatment.

Yesterday, the 44-year-old was sentenced to jail on 10 counts of cheating Madam Pramela Sukumaran, 39, a co-curricular programme executive, between 2008 and 2011.

Thirty-five other similar charges were taken into consideration.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jordon Li had argued that a total sentence of at least 24 months' jail should be imposed, given Kumar's previous convictions for cheating and criminal breach of trust; the amount involved and his being on the run for so long.

The court was told that between December 2008 and October 2011, Kumar would conduct "rituals'' at Madam Pramela's home. He would claim that various jewellery items were "evil'', and he had to take them away to be "cleansed''.

Kumar also directed Madam Pramela to transfer money to him for prayers overseas.

He claimed he needed to sacrifice "black sheep'' and "black chickens'' to help Madam Pramela and her family, but did not actually do so. Madam Pramela came to know Kumar through her mother in October 2008. Kumar could reputedly cure people of their ailments through his prayers.

Two months later, Madam Pramela deposited $500 into Kumar's bank account to pay for prayers in Indonesia. In total, she gave him money at least 40 times. The sums ranged from $50 to $1,000.

Kumar once convinced Madam Pramela that her mother's life was in danger and got her to part with $750 for prayers to counteract a "black magic spell".

He would also take her jewellery and pawn it. She finally reported him to the police in November 2011.

In his brief grounds for sentencing yesterday, District Judge Marvin Bay said Kumar abused the trust reposed in him by the court when he absconded after his plea of guilt on Sept 18, 2013. Kumar had also abused the victim's trust.

"He had cynically betrayed and exploited this trust on no fewer than 45 occasions, relentlessly relieving her of money and valuables," the judge noted.

"Kumar had exploited the unquestioning trust of his victim, putting her in terror of supernatural consequences if she did not do his bidding, and even turned her friends and relatives against her. His offence is aggravated by his duplicity before this court in his absconding upon a pretext of trying to make restitution," he said.

Kumar could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge. His sentence was backdated to Feb 4.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2016, with the headline 'Nabbed fugitive jailed for cheating woman'. Print Edition | Subscribe