Murderer gets life in jail after changes in law

Murderer gets life in jail after changes in law

SINGAPORE - Bijukumar Remadevi Nair Gopinathan, who stabbed a prostitute to death in 2010, became the third convicted murderer in Singapore to be sentenced to life in prison instead of being given the death penalty on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Indian national, who also received 18 strokes of the cane, showed little reaction in the High Court when he heard that his life was being spared.

His defence lawyer Shashi Nathan had requested a fresh sentencing hearing following changes to the law in January. The changes gave judges the option of imposing life imprisonment for certain murder cases in which the accused did not have the intention of killing the victim.

Asking for a life sentence and no more than 15 strokes of the cane, Mr Nathan said on Wednesday his client had not planned to kill the 30-year-old woman, Ms Roselyn Reyes Pascua. Deputy Public Prosecutor Adrian Loo did not object to the life sentence, but asked for the maximum 24 strokes.

Gopinathan's victim had been found dead in a rented room in Bencoolen Street in the early hours of March 15, 2010.

The Filipina had been stabbed multiple times in the chest, abdomen, neck and genital area. Her mobile phone, $476.30 in cash and a receipt showing a transfer of $777.08 to India were found on Gopinathan after his arrest two days later.

During a six-day trial in 2011, Gopinathan claimed that he had stabbed his victim out of anger after she attacked him and refused to return money he had paid her for sex.

But the shipyard worker's defence of "sudden fight" and grave and sudden provocation was rejected by Justice Choo Han Teck, who found that he had gone to Ms Pascua's room with the intention of robbing and killing her.

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