Man who got scapegoat to take rap spared jail

A former property agent convicted of two charges of attempting to and successfully getting someone to take the rap for his driving offence was fined a total of $13,000 yesterday.

Haresh Vishindas Chandiramani was spared a jail term - which is the norm for intentionally perverting the course of justice - purely on compassionate grounds, said District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim.

The judge agreed with the prosecutor that the 42-year-old was more culpable than co-accused Azli Mohd Hasan, but was prepared to depart from the sentencing norm.

Chandiramani, a wheelchair user, has had his right leg amputated below the knee due to some medical issue. Taking the cue from a recent High Court case, the judge said an accused person's infirmity could be taken into consideration, but it did not mean that accused persons in such circumstances would not be jailed.

Chandiramani was found guilty after trial of offering $200 to part-time property agent Raymond Tan Yew Chye to assume criminal liability on his behalf for driving along a road shoulder in September 2009.

He was also convicted of getting Mr Azli, now 38, to take the blame for his driving offence. Mr Azli completed his five-week jail term two years ago.

Urging the court to jail Chandiramani, Deputy Public Prosecutor Shaun Lee said his culpability was greater than that of Mr Azli.

This is because he actively sought out individuals to assume criminal liability for him by first approaching Mr Tan, who rejected him, and then Mr Azli, who worked then as a chauffeur.

DPP Lee argued that such offences were difficult to detect, and there was a public interest element in this case as well.

"The objective of the Road Traffic Act is to regulate traffic offences with various punishments to ensure that motorists comply with the traffic rules for the safety of other road users," he said.

Chandiramani's lawyer K. Jayakumar Naidu urged the court to impose a fine on compassionate grounds in view of his client's present state of health and his medical condition. He suffers from heart and kidney problems, among other things.

Chandiramani's offence of driving on the road shoulder carries a maximum fine of $1,000. He has settled it by paying a composition fine of $150.

A relieved Chandiramani was seen wiping tears from his eyes after sentencing. He could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined on each charge.

This article was published on April 26 in The Straits Times.

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