Man's murder conviction reduced to culpable homicide

A man initially sentenced to hang for killing his girlfriend four years ago has escaped the sentence after the Court of Appeal set aside his murder conviction.

Pathip Selvan Sugumaran, 26, has now been found guilty of a lesser charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, reported The Straits Times.

He had stabbed to death Jeevitha Panippan, 18, in July 2008.

Pathip had said that he had been provoked by Jeevitha, who had taunted him by saying that her new boyfriend was better in bed.

The Straits Times reported that he claimed that he had lost self-control and his mind was "blank" during the stabbing.

In 2010, the High Court rejected the provocation defence in convicting Pathip of murder but the appeal court has now disagreed and accepted that he had been provoked.

Justice V. K. Rajah said that Jeevitha's taunt should be taken in the context of her previous occasions of infidelity and that Pathip had earlier that day seen her behaving intimately with the other man.

The Straits Times reported that given Pathip's feelings for Jeevitha as he expected to marry her, her utterance ridiculing his sexual capabilities can be seen as the last straw for Pathip resulting in him losing his self-control.

The appeal court will hear submissions on Pathip's sentence next Wednesday.

The punishment for culpable homicide is life imprisonment, or up to 20 years' jail and caning or a fine.

spanaech@sph.com.sg

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