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Judicial CP - November 2003

Corpun file 12368

Straits Times, Singapore, 29 November 2003

Hotel rapist gets 26 years, 24 strokes

Court hears how one victim had an abortion a month after the sexual assault, while the other is afraid of staying in hotels on her own

By Elena Chong

THE man who raped an air stewardess twice and molested her colleague at the Grand Hyatt hotel was sentenced to 26 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane yesterday after a stunned court heard that the rape victim underwent an abortion about a month after the attack.

Suresh Nair patiently waited for his prey and bided his time before pouncing on them.

Malaysian Suresh Nair Vellayutham, 28, an unemployed man with an advanced diploma in computer studies, was found guilty of five charges - one of rape and four of aggravated molestation.

In addition, he pleaded guilty to another charge of raping the flight attendant and one of pointing a toy pistol at her.

He was acquitted on three counts - one of oral sex and two of aggravated molestation. On hearing Justice Tay Yong Kwang say this, Suresh Nair said: 'Thank you.'

Eight other charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing.

The two women - who are on paid leave until next month - gave victim impact statements, describing their trauma and their fears after they were sexually assaulted in a hotel room on April 8.

The 31-year-old victim, who was married last year, is still being counselled and has yet to get over the trauma of repeated rape as well as being forced to pose for lewd pictures.

Back home, she sought gynaecological treatment and was given five drugs to prevent pregnancy and kill unwanted viruses.

She was shocked and confused when she discovered she was pregnant and made the 'painful and agonising' decision to abort the five-week-old foetus on May 5.

Since the incident, she said she had developed phobias such as feeling uncomfortable in a lift and being very nervous about staying in hotels. She had also become wary of quiet places.

She felt that she would not be able to carry on with her duties as a flight attendant because of these fears. And she did not know how long her employer would continue extending her leave.

Her colleague, a 30-year-old woman who is also married, was equally traumatised and blamed herself for not helping her friend.

Since the incident, she said she had been feeling 'very nervous and scared' whenever she saw dark-skinned men, and was afraid of staying in hotels on her own.

Her temperament had changed and her husband had noticed that she was now short-tempered and less tolerant towards her child, she said.

She also experienced discomfort when her husband wanted to get intimate with her.

Defence counsel Subhas Anandan said in mitigation that his client was extremely sorry for what he had done, and apologised to the victims, their families and the court.

He also pointed out that he had kept his cross-examination to the bare minimum so as not to upset the victims.

Mr Subhas urged the court not to make the sentence too crushing because his client would have no hope at all in prison.

However, Justice Tay sentenced Suresh Nair to a total of 26 years and the maximum 24 strokes allowed by law for the two rapes, for violating the Arms Offences Act and for aggravated molestation.

Suresh Nair, who has been remanded since April 11, was solemn as the sentence was read out.

His mother and younger brother were in court yesterday, though his father, who had attended the trial on the last three days, stayed away.

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