Jail, caning for cleaner who raped woman after punching her and dragging her to forested area

Selina Lum
The Straits Times
Oct 27, 2023

A cleaner who raped a 23-year-old woman in 2019 after pummelling her and dragging her into a forested area in Kranji was sentenced to 16 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane on Friday.

The victim, a university student, had ended up in Kranji late at night after she took the wrong MRT train on her way back to campus, prosecutors told the High Court.

Indian national Chinnaiah Karthik, now 26, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated rape for his attack on the woman at about 1.30am on May 4 that year.

He assaulted the victim so brutally that her then boyfriend could not recognise her when he visited her in hospital, owing to the severity of her facial injuries.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kayal Pillay said the victim was returning to her residential hall from Changi when she accidentally boarded the wrong train, and found herself at Kranji MRT station. After checking a map app, the victim decided to wait for a bus that would take her to her campus.

At the time, she was on a long-distance call with her boyfriend and was quarrelling with him.

There were several people at the bus stop, and she decided to walk to the next one to get some privacy. Caught up in the call, she walked for 10 to 15 minutes without paying attention to her surroundings.

As she walked past a sign for the Singapore Turf Club, Chinnaiah walked up to her and asked if she was okay. She replied that she was fine and asked him to leave her alone.

She then tried to walk back to the MRT station, but Chinnaiah grabbed her arm and pushed her down Turf Club Avenue, away from the station.

The victim could not understand his mumblings and walked in the direction he had indicated.

After some time, she realised that he was following her, and told her boyfriend about it. The boyfriend urged her to head to an open space and try to flag down a taxi, but there were no open areas and the road was deserted.

The woman decided to cross the road, but Chinnaiah caught up with her at the road divider and threw a punch at her face.

The boyfriend heard screams and noises over the phone, and shouted for her, but the line went dead. He then contacted her hall mate, who called the police.

Meanwhile, Chinnaiah was hitting the victim repeatedly, causing her spectacles to fall from her face.

He placed her in a headlock under his arm and dragged her into the forested area. He pinned her down by the neck as he raped her, and when the victim tried to pull his hand away, he tightened his grip.

After the rape, he drank from her water bottle and poured the remaining water over her lower body.

He then walked deeper into the vegetation, leaving the victim alone. She grabbed a pair of scissors from her bag in case he returned, found her ringing phone, and told her boyfriend she had been raped.

She walked back to the main road and sat there crying until the police arrived at around 2.05am.

Footage from surveillance cameras near the scene shows that Chinnaiah tailed the woman for about 15 minutes, hiding behind a tree at one point, before they disappeared from sight along Turf Club Avenue at 1.32am.

She emerged from the vegetation in a dishevelled state at 1.48am.

Police officers conducted investigations at nearby dormitories and housing areas, and caught Chinnaiah the next day, on May 5, 2019. Forensic tests detected his DNA on the victim’s clothes and body.

After a psychiatric evaluation found that he was unfit to stand trial, he was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on Aug 1, 2022, and remanded at the Institute of Mental Health. He was reassessed and found fit to plead on Jan 16, 2023.

On Friday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Yvonne Poon said that four years on, the victim still suffers the emotional and psychological effects of the incident.

She has distanced herself from her family and friends and often cries at home. She did not tell her parents about the incident out of shame, and never sought therapy or counselling as she believed it would not help her.

The Straits Times

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