As a loanshark runner, he was tasked to throw human faeces and urine at a hawker stall. Having not been provided with the necessary materials, Sittaraman Sam Kris Carbonel used a mix of melted chocolate, kaya and green tea instead.
Despite making the switch, there was nothing sweet about the 16 months’ jail and six strokes of the cane that the 26-year-old Filipino was sentenced to on Tuesday (7 November) at the State Courts. He had pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment under the Moneylenders Act and one unrelated charge of criminal intimidation.
Three other similar charges under the Moneylenders Act and one other criminal intimidation charge were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that Sittaraman was facing financial troubles when he was approached by Sabtu Yazid, a 25-year-old Singaporean whom he got to know in March 2017, to act as a runner for an unlicensed moneylender known as “Larry”.
Part of the job involved carrying out acts of harassment such as splashing paint at debtors’ places of residence, using bicycle locks to lock up their homes and scribbling messages on their walls.
Sittaraman carried out four different assignments between 11.30pm on 24 July and 7am on 25 July at different HDB blocks in Bukit Panjang, Boon Lay, Choa Chu Kang and Jurong East. He earned $200 per job.
For a fifth assignment carried out at a Food Centre in Pasir Panjang, in which he threw the chocolate mixture, he was paid $300.
Prior to being a loanshark runner, Sittaraman had been arrested on 2 April for charging at his brother – 25-year-old Cliford Carbonel Sitaraman – while holding a knife.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Sum said that Sittaraman had become upset with Cliford for raising his voice at Sittaraman’s child. He also accused Cliford of not caring for his child properly and for not doing anything even though the child was crying.
Cliford and his girlfriend had been taking care of Sittaraman’s children because the brothers’ mother had stepped out to obtain diapers and milk. The argument turned violent when Sittaraman choked Cliford with his right hand. This escalated into a scuffle, which Cliford’s girlfriend unsuccessfully tried to break up.
Cliford then ran out of the house to ask for help from a neighbour. The brothers’ mother returned home at the same time and spoke to Sittaraman. But the brothers’ started fighting again outside the home, before Sittaraman rushed into the kitchen to retrieve a 15-centimetre knife.
He then charged at Cliford but tripped over a sofa before he could reach the latter. The neighbour then picked up the knife and threw it behind a cupboard. Cliford’s girlfriend then called for the police and Sittaraman left the house. He was arrested when he returned later that night.
DPP Sum asked for the court to impose a sentence of two months for the criminal intimidation charge, and 14 months and six strokes for the harassment charges.
Sittaraman’s lawyer, T. M. Sinnadurai, said in mitigation that his client is remorseful for his actions. He added that Cliford had forgiven him for his actions and that the brothers are still living together.
For criminal intimidation, Sittaraman could have been jailed up to two years and fined. For each charge under the Moneylenders Act, he could have been jailed up to five years and fined between $5,000 and $50,000.
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