Mistaken identity leads to fatal stabbing
Man thought victim was involved in earlier brawl, allegedly stabs him to death
They had just finished drinking and decided to grab a bite at a nearby restaurant.
But before Mr Karthigesan Tiaga Raj, 25, and his friends could eat, they were mistaken for members of a group that had just been involved in a brawl at the eatery.
One of the aggressors stabbed Mr Karthigesan in the chest.
Mr Karthigesan collapsed and was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), where he died hours later on Sept 11, 2003.
His suspected attacker, Mr Thangesan Bharathithasan, fled to Malaysia and remains at large.
These details emerged in court yesterday during a coroner's inquiry into Mr Karthigesan's death.
Investigation officer, Assistant Superintendant of Police (ASP) Chris Lee, told the inquiry that police have classified the case as murder.
ASP Lee said Mr Karthigesan, who was a material inspection officer, and a friend went drinking with a business contact at a pub at Serangoon Road on Sept 10, 2013.
They left the pub at about 3am the next morning, and made their way to Ma-Moni Restaurant at Rowell Road, where they met two friends.
Unknown to them, a brawl had just occurred at the eatery where some of the staff were assaulted as they tried to break up the fight.
One of the restaurant employees had called Mr Thangesan, 45, whose father owns the eatery, for help.
Mr Thangesan arrived at the scene with a former restaurant employee, Mr Akbar Ahmad Basheer, 22.
As they entered the eatery, they saw Mr Karthigesan and his friends and mistook them for those involved in the brawl.
They confronted them and a heated verbal exchange ensued.
It soon turned into another brawl after Mr Thangesan punched one of Mr Karthigesan's friends.
Then, Mr Thangesan went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife with a 7cm-long blade.
He swung it several times before stabbing Mr Karthigesan in the chest.
Mr Karthigesan collapsed and fell onto a bicycle.
Meanwhile, a staff member ran forward, snatched the knife from Mr Thangesan and threw it to the kitchen floor.
The weapon, however, could not be found by police when officers arrived at the scene later, ASP Lee said.
Mr Karthigesan was rushed to TTSH where he died from injuries to his heart at 4.13am.
ASP Lee said Mr Thangesan and Mr Akbar fled to Malaysia hours after the incident via the Woodlands Checkpoint, and are believed to be in India.
He said Singapore police had worked with their Indian counterparts to raid Mr Thangesan's residence in India, but he did not turn up.
The Singapore Police Force is working with the Indian Police Service, the Royal Malaysian Police and Interpol to arrest both suspects, he said.
Mr Karthigesan's uncle was also present at the inquiry and said Mr Karthigesan was a "very good boy" and had a promising life until the incident.
He, however, said he was surprised his nephew had behaved in an unruly manner.
When State Coroner Marvin Bay asked ASP Lee if he considered Mr Karthigesan to have been unruly, ASP Lee said: "There was some altercation but I don't think he was... The accused had mistaken him for someone involved in an earlier fight."
Mr Bay then asked ASP Lee if Mr Karthigesan had been at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
ASP Lee said yes.
The state coroner will present his findings today.
The accused had mistaken him for someone involved in an earlier fight.
- ASP Chris Lee on Mr Karthigesan, the victim