TWO men convicted convicted of murder in a spate of brutal slashings in 2010 yesterday learnt they would have different fates, with one sentenced to the gallows and the other jailed for life.
Micheal Garing, 26, and Tony Imba, 36 - both natives of Sarawak, Malaysia - were part of a gang that went on a violent robbery spree in the Kallang area that ended with one man dead and three others severely injured.
They fought their murder charges in a 12-day trial but were found guilty in January last year. The prosecution had called for both to be hanged. After months of deliberation, the High Court decided on the different outcomes.
In sentencing Micheal to hang, High Court Judge Choo Han Teck stated in his written judgment that the assault on each of the surviving three victims "was as violent as the one that killed the last", 41-year-old construction worker Shanmuganathan Dillidurai.
The Indian national had a fractured skull, a severed left hand, a slash wound across his neck and a back wound so deep that his shoulder blade was cracked.
The other three victims, Indian nationals Sandeep Singh, 28, and Egan Karuppaiah, 47, and Singaporean Ang Jun Heng, 23, were left with major wounds.
Mr Singh, then a cleaner, had an open skull fracture that exposed his brain, and needed a metal plate inserted in his head.
Mr Egan, a former pipe-fitter, had wounds to his face and hands, which no longer have full range of function. He and Mr Singh are back in India.
Mr Ang, a former competitive canoeist, had a deep neck gash that missed his spinal cord by mere millimetres, and lost four fingers on his left hand. He is now studying in the United States.
When contacted yesterday, he said: "It's nice to finally have some closure on the case. I've always had faith in Singapore's justice system."
Justice Choo wrote: "The plan was to rob and the method was through violence with a deadly weapon. All victims suffered severely and one lost his life.
"I am of the view that the conduct of Micheal Garing justified the death penalty and I so sentence him to suffer death."
Tony's culpability, however, was "significantly less", and "sufficiently different to be sentenced to life imprisonment rather than to suffer death".
Justice Choo found that evidence pointed to Micheal being the only one to wield the parang that felled Mr Shanmuganathan.
Tony had knocked the victim off his bicycle and held him while Micheal began his assault, said the judge, but the fatal wounds had not been inflicted by Tony and there was no evidence he ever wielded the weapon to cause deadly injuries.
"In the circumstances, can the same degree of blameworthiness be ascribed to Tony Imba?" wrote the judge. "The fact that he did not use the weapon is important."
Tony, who was also given 24 strokes of the cane, was "grateful" for his second chance at life and repentant, said defence counsel Justin Tan, who represented him alongside Mr Amarick Gill.
Changes to Singapore's homicide legislation in 2012 give judges more sentencing discretion for murder and drug-trafficking offences, and thus allow Justice Choo to impose the different sentences for the two men.
Prior to the amendments, anyone convicted of murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code would have been punished with death.
Now, anyone convicted of murder who did not have an explicit intention to kill could face life in prison and caning as an alternative.
Micheal's lawyer, Mr Ramesh Tiwary, said his client would be appealing against his sentence.
This article was first published on April 21, 2015.
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