Five acquitted of Nhaveen’s murder

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Prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against the five.

The High Court in George Town has delivered a not guilty verdict on five people over the murder of teenager T Nhaveen in 2017.

Judge Radzi Hamid acquitted and discharged the five suspects today.

S Gopinaath, J Ragesuthan, S Gokulan and two others who were juveniles at the time of the death, stood trial for the murder of 18-year-old Nhaveen, who was assaulted at a park on Jalan Bunga Raya between 11pm and midnight on June 9, 2017.

Nhaveen was reported to have been beaten and died days later after being pronounced brain dead.

The five were also charged with committing grievous assault on Nhaveen’s friend, T Previin, then 19, near the Karpal Singh Learning Centre in Bukit Gelugor on the same night.

The trial underwent several postponements and only commenced on May 3, 2021.

In delivering his verdict, Radzi said that there were major flaws in the prosecution’s case against the accused, and hence a failure in proving a prima facie case.

In his ground of judgment, he ruled that the prosecution could not determine for sure that Nhaveen had indeed died as a result of “blunt force trauma to the head” as stated in the post-mortem report following an attack on him or due to an existing illness.

He also cited that the doctor treating him directly was not called to testify.

“The failure to call the doctor concerned led to uncertainty if the blunt force trauma had directly led to his death.

“Also, it could not be ascertained as to whether the necessary assistance had been given to save him,” he said.

Radzi added that the testimony given by Previin, the main and only direct witness in this case, was also not credible, contradictory and cast serious doubts.

He said that Previin’s statement to the police soon after the incident and the police report he lodged four years later was filled with contradictions.

“Four years is such a long time. If indeed he was close to Nhaveen, which he had so claimed, he should have acted sooner and not waited for four years.

“What he testified does not prove that the five accused had intended to kill Nhaveen when he alleged that there were more than 20 people at the scene. He also could not say for sure where the attack occurred.

“Due to his lack of credibility, his testimony is rejected and cannot be used as evidence in this case,” he said, adding that the prosecution had also failed to call in other corroborating witnesses to support Previin’s testimony.

In his ground of judgment, Radzi also said that the police had failed to conduct investigations into these cases fairly and that the mid-trial murder and assault charge against the fifth accused, Gopinaath, was unjust.

“The fifth accused (Gopinaath) was never present at the scene of the crime. There was no investigation conducted regarding his involvement. This represents a failure on the part of the police to conduct a proper investigation into his role in this case,” Radzi added.

Immediately after the judge ordered the five men to be immediately released, there were muffled cries of relief from the men’s family members sitting in the public gallery.

The five men were respectively represented by Manveer Singh Dhillon, S Yagoo and Datuk Naran Singh while Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Azhar Hamzah prosecuted the case.

Lead defence counsel Datuk Ranjit Singh Dhillon died of a heart-related ailment mid-trial in March last year.

Sukhindarpal Singh held a watching brief for the Bar Council.

Nhaveen, who was 18 years old, was reportedly on his way home with his friend, Previin, when they got into an altercation with a group of boys.

It was reported that both Nhaveen and Previin were beaten but the latter managed to escape and get help.

Nhaveen was later found unconscious in a field next to Jalan Kaki Bukit in Bukit Gelugor. He was subsequently declared brain dead and succumbed to his injuries five days later.

The four accused had spent six years and three months in detention, while Gopinaath had been detained for a year and nine months.

After they were freed, the accused, clenching Hindu hymn books, broke into tears and were embraced by their mothers.