He repays her kindness with cruelty

SINGAPORE - He repaid an elderly woman's act of kindness with a cruel deed.

Tanabalan Ellomalai, 27, had knocked on her door and asked if he could go in to have a drink and use her toilet.

She let him in and the Malaysian took advantage of that and robbed Madam V. Sarasvathy, 77, of her gold jewellery at knifepoint at her own home earlier this year.

In court on Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Alan Hu said that Tanabalan "tricked the elderly victim and took advantage of her pity for him".

Tanabalan admitted to the armed robbery. On Monday, he was sentenced to 27 months in jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

Madam Sarasvathy and her daughter were returning home at about 12.30pm after doing some marketing when Tanabalan saw them at the void deck of their block in Marsiling Drive on Jan 29.

He noticed they were wearing jewellery and came up with a plan to try and steal it from them.

He approached them, said he was from a welfare group and told them he could give them free rice every month.

But Madam Sarasvathy and her daughter were not interested in the offer.

He continued talking while following them into the lift. When they reached their level, Tanabalan left.

A short while after they returned home, Madam Sarasvathy's daughter left the unit.

The main door was left open while the grille was locked.

Tanabalan suddenly appeared at the door and asked her if he could have a drink as he was thirsty. He also asked to use her toilet.

Madam Sarasvathy took pity on him and let him in, telling him to use the toilet in the kitchen. Meanwhile, she waited in the living room with Tanabalan's drink.

After using the toilet, he took a knife from her kitchen and approached Madam Sarasvathy.


Tanabalan stepped on her foot and placed his hand on her shoulder and told her to sit.

He placed the knife at her neck and demanded that she handed over her two gold necklaces, two gold bangles and three gold rings.

She removed the jewellery, which was worth about $5,000, and handed them over to Tanabalan, who left the unit.

He left the knife at one of the flower pots outside her flat.

Tanabalan sold the jewellery the next day for $300 and left Singapore for Johor on the same day. He changed the money into Malaysian ringgit and used it to settle his household bills and expenses.

The jewellery was never recovered.

In mitigation, Tanabalan, who is married with a young daughter, said he was remorseful for his actions. He added that he was the sole breadwinner for his family.


This article was published on April 23 in The New Paper.

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