Death penalty overturned for man who killed girlfriend
Pathip Selvan Sugumaran was convicted by the High Court in 2010 of murdering his then 18-year-old girlfriend Jeevitha Panippan.
In 2008, Panippan, who was a part-time nursery teacher and studying for her O levels, was found dead with knife wounds on the neck and upper body.
She had been stabbed and found on a perimeter pavement behind an SP PowerGrid substation opposite Block 154, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5.
During the earlier trial in 2010, Justice Kan Ting Chiu rejected Pathip’s defence that he was provoked to kill his girlfriend.
She had allegedly told him that his love rival was better in bed.
In a 37-page written judgment issued yesterday, the Court of Appeal said the Judge was “mistaken in concluding that all she said was the other person was a ‘better lover’ and that the words uttered could not amount to a grave provocation”.
In considering Pathip’s “intensely passionate feelings” for Panippan and “the fact that he expected to reconcile with her and marry her”, Justice V K Rajah, who delivered judgment on behalf of the court, said “it was more probable than not” that Panippan’s taunt “transported his passions to such an extent that he entirely lost his self-control momentarily”.
The court was thus satisfied that, “in the heat of the moment and in the context of the unfortunate couple’s overwhelming emotional turbulence”, the provocation towards Pathip was “grave”.
The court, however, found that Pathip’s partial defence of diminished responsibility was “not substantiated”, even though defence psychiatrist Tommy Tan felt he had satisfied the criteria for hyperactive disorder and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which impaired his mental responsibility.
Pathip, who is represented by laywers Subhas Anandan and Sunil Sudheesan, will be back in court next Wednesday for sentencing.