Scrap metal collector’s death sentence for murdering wife commuted to 35 years’ jail

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal here Thursday (Oct 12) commuted the death sentence of a former scrap metal collector who was convicted of killing his wife by setting her on fire, to 35 years in jail.

A three-member bench comprising Justices Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Azman Abdullah and Azizul Azmi Adnan however, spared V. Mathiyalagan the whipping as he is above 50 years old.

Justice Hadhariah, who chaired the bench, said the offence committed by Mathiyalagan was serious as he took the life of his wife by torching her.

Considering that Mathiyalagan is suffering from kidney failure and is undergoing dialysis, the imprisonment of 35 years is sufficient, she said and ordered him to serve the jail sentence from the date of arrest, which was May 26, 2017.

Mathiyalagan, 53, was sentenced to death by the Alor Setar High Court on Dec 24, 2019, after he was found guilty of murdering his wife R. Ratna, 44, at their house in Taman Arked, Sungai Petani, Kedah at noon on May 26, 2017.

Mathiyalagan initially appealed to the Court of Appeal against his conviction and death sentence but withdrew his appeal against the conviction today and requested the court to commute the death sentence to a custodial sentence.

His lawyer, T. Jayaraj, urged the court to exercise its discretion to substitute the death sentence to 30 years' jail, saying that his client is suffering from kidney failure and has to undergo dialysis thrice a week.

My client is alone and his family never came to visit him in prison, he added.

Deputy public prosecutor Noorhisham Mohd Jaafar agreed that the death sentence be commuted to a custodial sentence, but said that a 30 years' jail would not commensurate with the offence as Mathiyalagan is spared the whipping.

According to the facts of the case, Ratna was in the kitchen when her husband suddenly came from behind, poured petrol on her and set her on fire, resulting in the woman suffering first and second-degree burns.

She was taken to a hospital and died on June 6, 2017, and the cause of her death was due to complications of severe burns.

In another case, the same Court of Appeal bench commuted the death sentence imposed on a contractor who was found guilty of murdering his would-be brother-in-law to 35 years' in jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

Mohd Hafiz Mohamad was found guilty of murdering Muhamad Shukri Husin, 34, outside the Kuala Terengganu district religious office at 11.39am on Oct 16, 2016.

Justice Hadhariah, in delivering the court’s decision, ordered Mohd Hafiz to begin his jail sentence from the date of arrest, which was Oct 19, 2016.

Mohd Hafiz, 36, was found guilty of the murder offence and was sentenced to death by the Kuala Terengganu High Court on Aug 28, 2019.

He appealed to the Court of Appeal against his conviction and death sentence but withdrew his appeal against the conviction today.

His lawyer, Mazlan Md Zain, requested a 30-year imprisonment, but deputy public prosecutor Atiqah Abdul Karim@Husaini asked for a jail sentence of between 35 and 40 years saying that Mohd Hafiz repeatedly attacked the victim with a knife. - Bernama

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