A 22-year-old Indian-origin man in Singapore was sentenced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane on Thursday for stabbing a stranger to death with a Singapore Armed Forces-issued Swiss folding knife during the COVID-19 ”circuit-breaker” period in 2020.
Surajsrikan Diwakar Mani Tripathi pleaded guilty to one count of murder. He stabbed 38-year-old Tay Rui Hao on May 10, 2020, while they were both jogging, Channel News Asia reported.
Both he and Tay lived in Punggol but did not know each other. Tay had started jogging two to three times a week since the start of the circuit breaker (when people were not allowed to leave their houses for non-essential activities although the exercise was allowed) while Surajsrikan was a regular runner.
The court heard that May 10 was a significant date for Surajsrikan as his father had abandoned his family and it was also the date of his enlistment into National Service.
The memory of the date caused him to be frustrated and angry.
When Surajsrikan left his home, he brought along a Singapore Armed Forces-issued Swiss folding knife with a 9cm-long blade, serrated on one edge, and a wet wipe.
While Surajsrikan was running, he missed his footing and fell near a bus stop. He paced around for five to 10 minutes to work off his anger.
When Tay jogged past him, Surajsrikan’s anger ”overtook” him, the court heard. He unfolded his knife, chased after Tay, and stabbed him forcefully in the back.
Surajsrikan then stabbed and slashed the victim’s arm and abdominal area when the victim was trying to sit up.
The victim called 995 and paramedics found him bleeding on the grass. He was initially alert but lost consciousness later.
He died early the next morning. Surajsrikan was identified through police cameras that showed him wandering around the neighbourhood with a knife. He was arrested and the knife was recovered.
An autopsy on the victim uncovered 10 external injuries comprising incised wounds, abrasions, and a deep gaping wound in a muscle.
His cause of death was determined to be incised wounds of the right radial artery and a lung.
Surajsrikan was examined and found to suffer from severe social anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
These had crippling effects on his life, leading to low mood and anger, but he did not qualify for a depressive disorder, according to the Channel report.
Although Surajsrikan has no previous convictions, Deputy Public Prosecutors Andre Chong and Han Ming Kuang said they did not object to life imprisonment for Surajsrikan.
Surajsrikan killed the victim ”senselessly, simply to vent his anger over his own circumstances”, said Chong, and in a brutal manner with multiple stabs.
Defence lawyer Edmond Pereira concurred with the imposition of a life sentence but asked the judge not to impose caning.
Justice Dedar Singh Gill said Surajsrikan’s sentence ”will not bring back the victim” nor ”erase memories of this painful period”.
”But it is my hope that the sentencing will provide some sort of closure for the family of the victim. It is also my hope that the accused dutifully continues with his medication whilst in prison,” he said.