Man gets 3½ years' jail after punching 66-year-old who fell, hit head and later died in hospital

Samuel Devaraj
The Straits Times
May 22, 2023

Following an argument, Salvaduri Ahpiah Maniam punched a man he was having drinks with. The victim fell, hit his head and later died in hospital.

Mr Woo Jit Kuen, 66, was about 33kg – about half of Salvaduri’s weight – and 4cm taller than him at about 163cm.

On Monday, the 53-year-old stateless man was sentenced to three years, six months and three days’ jail after he pleaded guilty to three charges, including one of voluntarily causing hurt that leads to grievous hurt.

The other two charges were for confronting a member of the public while drunk in a public place and breaching Covid-19 rules by meeting two friends to drink alcohol, eat and chat at a public place on April 18, 2020, during the circuit breaker period.

Court proceedings were ongoing against him for these two offences when he punched the victim.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Huo Jiongrui said Salvaduri arrived at Block 448 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 at about 2.30pm on July 3, 2022, on his bicycle, having had a can of beer.

He went to the nearby Singapore Pools outlet, intending to place bets, but decided to do so later after noticing a long queue.

He then saw two groups outside a McDonald’s outlet drinking beer and, recognising some of the people in the groups, he joined them.

At about 3.30pm, only Salvaduri, his friend S. Ponniah and Mr Woo remained. Salvaduri and Mr Woo, who did not know each other, were both drunk.

An argument soon broke out between Salvaduri and Mr Woo. It was not clear why they were arguing.

Mr Woo grabbed Salvaduri’s T-shirt and, angered by this and the argument, Salvaduri punched the victim in the face.

Mr Woo fell backwards and hit the concrete floor, and began to bleed from the back of his head.

Salvaduri soon realised that Mr Woo was not moving and that a pool of blood was forming on the floor.

Salvaduri called for an ambulance, but said Mr Woo had tripped, deliberately omitting that he had punched him to avoid arrest.

He similarly lied to police officers and paramedics who arrived at the scene. After speaking to a police officer, he left on his bicycle.

Mr Woo, who was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, suffered extensive brain injury and died two days later.

DPP Huo said significant police resources were expended to ascertain Salvaduri’s whereabouts, and he was arrested on July 7, 2022.

The prosecutor, who asked the court to sentence Salvaduri to four years’ jail for the attack, said: “Instead of using his significantly larger size and relative sobriety to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner, the accused chose to punch the deceased on his face in anger.”

District Judge Lee Lit Cheng sentenced Salvaduri, who was represented by Mr Don Tan, to three years and six months’ jail for the offence.

She said that the victim was not particularly vulnerable, unlike a recent case involving a man who pleaded guilty to the same charge in February.

In that case, Allan Chua Kim Wee, 36, charged at and hit a 74-year-old man whom he saw advancing towards him with a walking stick. The elderly man fell and died later that day.

Before the attack, a confrontation had ensued between the two. Chua had taken photos of the older man with his phone, having spotted him smoking at a void deck and wanting to file a complaint. Chua was jailed four years for the offence.

For voluntarily causing hurt that leads to grievous hurt, Salvaduri could have been jailed for up to five years, fined up to $10,000, or both.

The Straits Times

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