Snow-spray celebrations turn fatal
Man involved in attack that caused death of fellow Indian national pleads guilty
A group of foreign nationals' "snowy" New Year celebrations in Jurong took a tragic turn when another group attacked them with wooden poles, killing one of them.
All because the second group of foreigners was unhappy over the first group's enthusiastic spraying of "snow" during their celebratory welcome of 2013 at Jurong Lake Park.
A member of the rival group, welding inspector Somasundaram Ilayaraja, now 32, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to three counts of being a member of an unlawful assembly that came together to cause grievous hurt with dangerous weapons.
Three other charges for the same offence will be taken into consideration during sentencing on Monday.
Somasundaram was originally charged with murder but it was later reduced to the current charge.
The court heard yesterday that the two groups of men had gone to the park to celebrate the countdown to the new year.
Mechanical technician Boobalan Palanikumar, 28, and his six friends started playing with snow-spray cans after the clock struck midnight.
The seven men are Indian nationals except for Malaysian Mr Mohamed Nizam Abdul Kader Ananthan, now 23.
Their antics irritated a member of Somasundaram's group, who are also Indian nationals.
One of the men, who was not identified in court documents, hurled Tamil vulgarities at the first group and Mr Nizam scolded them vulgarities in return.
After pulling Mr Nizam away, another of Mr Boobalan's friends, Mr Abdul Lathif Abdul Gafor, now 28, gave Somasundaram's group two packets of chips as a sign of goodwill.
But still unhappy, Somasundaram's group called for reinforcements from their friends at Jurong Penjuru Dormitory. Two men joined them and the group later decided to attack.
Somasundaram and four others armed themselves with wooden poles that had been used to support tree saplings in the park. Two others, who were unarmed, followed them.
Their attack on Mr Boobalan and his friends was captured on the park's closed-circuit television camera.
Deputy Public Prosecutor DPP Goh Yi Ling said: "An eyewitness saw three wooden-pole-armed assailants taking turns to hit the deceased on his head and body. These blows caused the injuries... and ultimately led to the deceased's death."
The attack lasted less than a minute. An eyewitness, who found Mr Boobalan, Mr Nizam and two of their friends injured near a pavilion, called the police.
The four men were rushed by ambulance to the National University Hospital.
Mr Boobalan died of severe head injuries the next day.
DPP Goh asked District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan to sentence Somasundaram to six years' jail with six strokes of the cane.
She said: "The autopsy report listed a total of 28 types of external injuries on the head, neck, upper limbs and trunk of the deceased."
Somasundaram's lawyer, Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, asked for his client to be jailed for five years with no caning, saying that he did not hit anyone with the wooden pole.
For each count of being part of an unlawful assembly that caused grievous hurt with dangerous weapons, he can be jailed for life or up to 15 years and fined or caned.
Somasundaram is the second member of his group to be dealt with in court.
On Oct 5 last year, pipe fitter Raja Arul, 26, was jailed for 3½ years for his role in the unlawful assembly.
The cases involving three others: Ramasami Rabinhood, 28, Palanisamy Vijayakumar, 29, and Bose Muruganandham, 35, are still pending.
Two of their alleged accomplices, Kathiresan Venkadeswaran and Raman Prabu, are still at large.