SINGAPORE — After stalking a university student as she walked to a bus stop late at night, Chinnaiah Karthik pointed her in the wrong direction then punched the 23-year-old before dragging her to a forested area and viciously raping her.
After the ordeal, the victim was so badly injured with facial bruising and other injuries that her then-boyfriend did not recognise her upon visiting her in hospital.
Chinnaiah, a 26-year-old cleaner, was sentenced on Friday (Oct 27) to 16 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to aggravated rape.
One other related charge for abduction and a theft charge were taken into consideration for sentencing.
The victim’s name cannot be published due to a gag order to protect her identity.
The rape took place on May 4, 2019. The court heard that the reason for the case had taken some four years to get to court was that Chinnaiah’s mental condition had required several rounds of psychiatric evaluation.
The court heard that the victim was returning to her on-campus residence from Changi when she accidentally boarded the wrong train and ended up at Kranji MRT Station between midnight and 1am.
After checking a map application, she decided to wait for a bus that would take her back to campus.
At that time, she was on a long-distance phone call with her then boyfriend and was in a verbal dispute with him.
Hoping to get some privacy as the bus stop had others around, the student chose to walk to the next bus stop.
As she was too caught up in the call, she did not pay attention to her surroundings and ended up walking for about 10 to 15 minutes, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kayal Pillay.
She also started to cry while quarrelling with her boyfriend which was when Chinnaiah, an Indian national, walked up to her and asked if she was okay.
She told him that she was fine and asked that he leave her alone.
Noticing that her location was unfamiliar, the student attempted to turn back and return to Kranji MRT station.
However, Chinnaiah grabbed her arm and pushed her in the direction she was walking, saying “you go, you go”.
Not being able to understand him as he was mumbling, the student carried on in the direction he had indicated and looked back several times to see that Chinnaiah had sat down on a ledge facing the road.
She realised that Chinnaiah had started following her only after she looked back again.
After relaying what was happening to her boyfriend, he urged her to head to an open space and try to flag a taxi but since there was no way to do that, she decided to cross the road and return to Kranji MRT station.
When the victim, who was still on her phone call, reached the road divider, Chinnaiah caught up with her and immediately threw a punch at her face.
Her boyfriend heard her scream through the phone and shouted to her several times but received no response.
At this point, Chinnaiah had punched her face multiple times, dislodging her spectacles which meant she couldn’t see clearly.
He then put his right arm over her neck and placed her in a headlock, which made the student feel like she was unable to breathe.
Chinnaiah proceeded to drag her across the road into a forested area where he threw her down on the grass and climbed on top of her to rape her.
While he was sexually assaulting the student, Chinnaiah had her pinned down with his hand around her neck.
DPP Pillay said the young woman had tried to pull Chinnaiah’s hand away from her throat as she was unable to breathe but Chinnaiah responded by tightening his grip, causing her to wheeze further.
He also told her to keep quiet and that no one would hear her.
After he raped her, Chinnaiah got off her and started rummaging through her belongings.
He took her water bottle and drank from it before he poured the remainder of the water over the lower half of her body.
Once he walked away, the student immediately went to her bag where she found her scissors and held them in her hand in case Chinnaiah returned.
While she was unable to locate her spectacles, she was able to find her mobile phone to speak to her boyfriend. He later contacted her friend who called the police.
After the police arrived, the student was taken to hospital for a sexual assault examination where she was found to have sustained multiple scratches, bruises and scrapes, including strangulation marks over her neck area.
When the victim’s boyfriend came to visit her later that day, he was unable to recognise her due to the severity of her facial bruising and injuries.
After an extensive investigation, the police tracked down Chinnaiah.
Using both Land Transport Authority and police camera footage, it was established that Chinnaiah had alighted at the bus stop opposite Kranji MRT station at about 12.25am.
He started to tail the student as she walked away from the bus stop and was also observed hiding behind a tree to avoid detection.
Chinnaiah was seen following her for about 15 minutes before they both disappeared from sight along Turf Club Avenue.
When the student next reappeared, she was on the opposite side of the road in a dishevelled state after the rape.
Chinnaiah was arrested on May 5, 2019.
‘UNRELENTING AND VICIOUS’
Seeking 15 to 17 years’ jail and 16 to 18 strokes of the cane, the prosecution argued that the degree of violence used to facilitate the rape was extreme and his attack had been unrelenting and vicious.
DPP Yvonne Poon also said that the attack was not spur of moment as Chinnaiah had numerous interactions with the victim and had directed her away from her last possible route to safety.
Describing Chinnaiah’s pre-meditation as “insidious”, DPP Poon added that the man had made serious efforts to avoid detection by making his presence less apparent as he followed her.
He had also poured water on the lower part of the victim’s body after committing the crime.
DPP Poon referred to the university student’s victim impact statement dated July 13, 2023, where she states she still has nightmares and flashbacks, thoughts of suicide, and a sense of shame.
For aggravated rape, Chinnaiah could have been jailed for up to 20 years with no fewer than 12 strokes of the cane.