PUTRAJAYA: A former lorry driver who repeatedly assaulted his 17-year-old girlfriend to death with a rotan was sentenced to 35 years’ jail for murder by the Federal Court.
A three-member bench chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Zabidin Diah, who allowed the prosecution’s appeal to reinstate a 2018 High Court verdict, also ordered N Sanderasegaran’s jail term to begin from Feb 28, 2016.
The 35-year-old was also ordered to be whipped 12 times.
Last year, the Court of Appeal substituted Sanderasegaran’s death penalty with 20 years’ jail for causing the death of S Durga Devi.
Zabidin, who sat with Justices Mary Lim and Nordin Hassan, said the Court of Appeal had erred in reducing the murder charge to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
“We allow the prosecution’s appeal. However, we have the discretion on whether to impose the death sentence or jail term (between 30 and 40 years),” he said.
“The accused had continuously assaulted the victim with a rotan, and there were 129 injuries on the body,” he added.
Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Fairuz Johari pressed for a maximum of 40 years’ jail as the life of a young woman had been taken away, and on grounds of public interest.
Counsel Charan Singh, who was assisted by Noorfaridah Arshad, proposed a 30-year custodial sentence and a minimum of 12 strokes.
Sanderasegaran committed the offence at a house in Kampung Batu Besi, Ladang Sengat, Simpang Pulai near Ipoh between 11pm on Feb 27, 2016 and 6am the following day.
The motive for the murder was not disclosed in the trial.
Fairuz submitted that the bodily injuries sustained by the victim were intentionally inflicted and sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
He said forensic pathologist Shafie Othman, in his evidence during the trial, had supported the prosecution’s case that Durga Devi was murdered.
Shafie said the victim had died of injuries to her body and head.
In his judgment, trial judge Che Ruzima Ghazali, now a Court of Appeal judge, said Sanderasegaran’s defence that the victim was killed during a robbery was fictitious and an afterthought.
He said Sanderasegaran only sustained slight injuries on the hands, and that the jewellery worn by the victim was not stolen.
He added that thieves would not normally stay at the scene of a crime long enough to inflict such injuries on a victim as they would flee as soon as possible to avoid being caught.