Lee Teck Sang v Public Prosecutor

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date08 March 1994
Neutral Citation[1994] SGCA 35
Citation[1994] SGCA 35
Defendant CounselBala Reddy (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Plaintiff CounselRam Goswami (Ram Goswami) and MP Rai (Robert WH Wang & Woo)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 31 of 1992
Date08 March 1994
Subject Matters 300(c) Penal Code,Intention to cause fatal injury,Criminal Law,Murder,Whether accused intended to cause fatal injury which resulted in deceased's death,Offences

The appellant, Lee Teck Sang, was convicted and sentenced to death on 7 October 1992 for the murder of one Tan Chin Liong, a lecturer in the Singapore Polytechnic. The charge against him read as follows:

You, Lee Teck Sang, are charged that you, on or about 22 November 1990, at about 7.05pm at the Singapore Polytechnic, Dover Road, Singapore, did commit murder by causing the death of one Tan Chin Liong, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 302 of the Penal Code (Cap 224).

On 17 January 1994, the appellant`s appeal against conviction was heard.
At the end of the hearing, we dismissed the appeal. We now give our reasons.

In the main, the facts are not in dispute.
The accused had gone absent without leave from the army on 4 November 1990 during his national service. Avoiding his home, he stayed at his alma mater, the Singapore Polytechnic. He spent his days there in the library reading books and during the nights he slept in the classrooms. However, his funds began to run low and he decided to rob the deceased. Despite the fact that the deceased was a lecturer in the polytechnic from which he had graduated, the appellant did not know the deceased personally. He merely knew that the deceased regularly came to work early each morning and that he would proceed to his office at the seventh floor of Blk 15 through a common corridor. On 16 November 1990, the appellant bought a knife in preparation for his intended robbery. He also bought a roll of plaster to wrap round the knife to give himself a better grip. It was on the morning of 22 November 1990 that the appellant put his plan into action. Early that morning, he lay in wait along the common corridor on the seventh floor. When the deceased arrived, the appellant stabbed him in the stomach and a struggle ensued. Besides numerous minor injuries, the deceased suffered four serious stab wounds. There was the aforementioned wound to the deceased`s stomach, there was a stab wound to his leg and two wounds on his chest, one piercing his lung and one piercing his heart. The undisputed forensic evidence at trial was that it was this last wound that was the fatal injury; it being sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. When the deceased finally stopped struggling and fell to the ground, the appellant said that he was stunned for a moment. He then took money from the deceased`s body and picked up the deceased`s bag and fled. In his confusion, he hid in the women`s toilet one floor below. Shortly thereafter, the body of the deceased was discovered and the police were summoned. The police arrived on the scene and discovered a trail of blood droplets. They followed the trail to the women`s toilet one floor below and found the appellant hiding in one of the cubicles. They arrested the appellant who surrendered without any struggle.

It was clear to us that these undisputed facts alone were sufficient to establish all the elements of murder under s 300(c) of the Penal Code except for the element of intention.
Section 300(c) reads:

Except in the cases hereinafter excepted culpable homicide is murder -

(c) if it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person, and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.

In Tan Cheow Bock v PP , it was stated that, in any case in which s 300(c) is relevant, there are four issues that have to be decided, namely:

(a) it must be established that a bodily injury is present;

(b) the nature of the injury must be proved;

(c) it must be proved that the injury is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature; and

(d) it must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular bodily injury, that is to say, that it was not accidental or unintentional, or that some other kind of injury was intended.

It is well established by the authorities that issues (a), (b) and (c) are objective inquiries and that issue (d) is a subjective matter.
The undisputed facts set out above are sufficient to settle issues (a), (b) and (c). They establish that the deceased suffered, inter alia, a stab wound to the chest that pierced his heart and that it was this wound, being sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to death, that actually caused the deceased`s demise. Thus, the only issue that was contested on appeal was issue (d), ie whether there was an intention to inflict the fatal stab wound to the heart.

The prosecution evidence of intention comprised, in the main, the statements made by the appellant pursuant to ss 121(1) and 122(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code (`CPC`) and the evidence of the forensic pathologist.
The statements were all admitted in evidence without objection at trial. The first statement was taken pursuant to s 122(6) of the CPC on 22 November 1990 itself. In it, the appellant said, inter alia:

... A few days before the incident, I almost ran out of money. I noticed the deceased who was a lecturer would come to school very early in the morning. I thought of robbing him, but I could not make up my mind. Today, I decided to rob him. I knew he would pass by the corridor at the seventh floor at Blk 15 to go to his restroom. I waited at a corner at the seventh floor corridor. At about 7.05am, I saw him coming. As he reached me, I stabbed him in the abdomen with the knife. I thought he would collapse but he did not. He struggled with me. I have (sic) no choice and I stabbed him another time in the chest. Shortly after, he collapsed on the floor ...

The prosecution submitted that this statement was an admission by the appellant that he had intentionally

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