Singapore

Man who killed boss evaded arrest for 30 years due to spelling error finally jailed

He eluded arrest due to spelling error, but new technology finally identified him

A Malaysian odd job worker who killed a colleague in 1986 in a fight over $1,000 evaded arrest for 30 years and even returned to Singapore repeatedly, the High Court was told yesterday.

In 2006, with advances in technology, Arumugam Veerasamy was linked to the crime through his fingerprints that were left on a beer bottle.

But it was not till 2016 that he was arrested when he entered Singapore via Woodlands Checkpoint.

His name had been misspelled on his Singapore work permit and consequently, on the police gazette issued for his arrest, the court heard.

Arumugam, now a 61-year-old grandfather, was sentenced to 8½ years' jail after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

He was 28 in 1986 when he was hired to do odd jobs by the victim, Mr Muthiah Kutha Lingam, 43, also a Malaysian.

The court heard that Mr Muthiah, a construction worker who also supplied labour for projects, paid Arumugam $10 at the end of each day instead of the agreed sum of $45.

UNPAID WAGES

On the afternoon of Aug 28 that year, Arumugam went to meet Mr Muthiah to discuss his unpaid wages amounting to about $1,000.

After they had some beer, Arumugam lashed out at Mr Muthiah, who explained he was still waiting to be paid by his boss.

The two men got into a scuffle, and when Mr Muthiah was lying on his back, Arumugam picked up a hammer nearby and repeatedly struck the victim on the head and chest with it.

As Mr Muthiah lay groaning in pain, Arumugam threw the hammer on the ground and left the scene.

He crossed the Causeway into Johor Baru.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelly Ho sought at least nine years' jail, arguing that Arumugam's "vicious attack" with a deadly weapon caused the victim to suffer a slow and painful death.

Arumugam had no idea that he was wanted for killing the victim, who was alive when he last saw him, defence counsel Siraj Shaik Aziz said.

The misspelling of his name on his work permit was not something that had occurred to his client as he was educated in Tamil, said the lawyer.

COURT & CRIME