Little India riot: 6th man found guilty of rioting

Little India riot: 6th man found guilty of rioting

On Dec 8 last year, construction worker Samiyappan Sellathurai, 42, was in Little India at around 10pm and part of a crowd watching as public officers kept order after a bus accident.

Drunk from earlier drinking, the Indian national tried to remove a concrete slab from the curb, instigating others to help, according to court documents. He later broke the slab by smashing it on the ground before hurling pieces of concrete at police cars, emergency vehicles and public servants.

The accused then picked up a metal rack and smashed it repeatedly against a side wall of the Little India MRT station with three others.

For his actions, Samiyappan yesterday became the sixth man to be convicted of rioting in the Dec 8 incident. He was sentenced to 25 months in prison, backdated to Dec 15, when he was arrested at Changi Airport as he tried to leave the country.

His actions that night, which Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok called "a brazen display of lawlessness" and those of an "instigator", were caught on closed-circuit television cameras, footage of which was shown yesterday in court.

The prosecution also said that the crowd had been non-violent until Samiyappan threw a piece of concrete.

APP Kok had earlier urged the court to give Samiyappan a jail term of 24 to 30 months and three strokes of the cane, but defence counsel Rajan Supramaniam said caning would be "unduly harsh".

Mr Rajan said his client had a clean record in all his 16 years here and was "caught up when the public disorder was afoot".

"He has since realised his foolishness and the gravity of the offence, and deeply regrets his actions," said the lawyer.

Pleading for leniency, Mr Rajan added that Samiyappan was the sole breadwinner for his family. He had left his hometown in South India for Singapore to earn a better living for his family, who have been "in anguish" since the riot.

A total of 25 men, all Indian nationals, have been charged with rioting in Little India. Samiyappan was one of six convicted of rioting, who have received up to 33 months' jail and three strokes of the cane.

Another nine have had their rioting charges amended to that of failure to disperse, obstruction and unlawful assembly, and have received jail terms of between 15 and 36 weeks.

The remaining 10 cases are pending in court.

This article was first published on August 15, 2014.
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