Ng Theng Shuang v Public Prosecutor
|04 March 1995
| SGCA 24
|Criminal Appeal No 37 of 1994
|04 March 1995
|19 September 2003
|Karpal Singh (Karpal Singh & Co) and Daniel Koh (Allen & Gledhill)
| SGCA 24
|Ismail Hamid and Bala Reddy (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
|Court of Appeal (Singapore)
|Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Whether appellant was properly called on to enter his defence,Trials,Review of test to be adopted by court at the close of prosecution case,s 189(1) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),One gunman escaped,s 4 Arms Offences Act (Cap 14),Using an arm with intent to injure,Criminal Law,Two persons injured in shooting incidents,Whether there was evidence to identify the appellant as the escaped gunman,Offences,Grievous hurt
The appellant, Ng Theng Shuang, was convicted by the High Court on 15 September 1994 on two charges of using an arm, namely, an automatic pistol, by discharging Win 9mm Luger Parabellum bullets from the said automatic pistol with intent to cause injury to one Karamjit Singh, the first charge, and to one Ou Kai San, the second charge, at Tin Sing Goldsmiths Pte Ltd, South Bridge Road, Singapore on 19 November 1992, an offence punishable with death under s 4 of the Arms Offence Act. He was also convicted on a third charge of having committed the robbery of a station wagon a short distance away from Tin Sing Goldsmiths at about the same time and on the same day as the first two charges with which he was charged, during the course of which robbery he was armed with a serviceable automatic pistol, an offence punishable with life imprisonment and with caning of not less than six strokes under s 3(3) of the same Act. Accordingly he was sentenced to death and sentenced to life imprisonment and caning with ten strokes respectively but in view of the sentence of death the court expressed the hope that the sentence of caning would not be carried out.
The appeal was against the two charges which carried the death penalty. We heard the appeal on 23 January 1995 and dismissed it. We now give our reasons.
Karamjit Singh was a CISCO constable on duty at Tin Sing Goldsmiths` premises in South Bridge Road on 19 November 1992. He was armed with a Smith & Wesson revolver. Ou Kai San was a salesman employed by Tin Sing Goldsmiths and was attending to customers on that day when at about 3pm two armed gunmen wearing crash helmets entered the premises brandishing the guns they held in their hands. Karamjit Singh immediately reached for his revolver despite a command from one of the gunmen not to do so. The gunman fired at Karamjit Singh wounding him in the thigh. Karamjit Singh returned the fire and there was an exchange of gunfire among the three armed persons. In the exchange of fire one of the gunmen was hit.
The two gunmen then fled the premises and attempted to get away on a motor-cycle but Karamjit Singh pursued them and there was a further exchange of fire between Karamjit Singh and the gunman who was riding on the pillion. This time Karamjit Singh was hit on the right ankle. The spent bullet was later recovered from his socks and identified by the expert witness who gave evidence for the prosecution as a Win 9mm Luger Parabellum bullet. Karamjit Singh was not sure whether his fire had hit any of the two gunmen.
The two gunmen did not, however, make good their escape as following this last exchange of fire the motor-cycle on which the two gunmen were riding skidded and fell. The motor-cyclist had collapsed to the ground. He died shortly thereafter. He had a gun-shot wound in his chest. He was later identified as one Lee Kok Chin (the deceased). A loaded Llama pistol and some live ammunition were recovered from his person.
In the meanwhile, the gunman who was riding on the pillion recovered from the fall and approached a station wagon, No SBG 9374 B, which had stopped in the traffic near the fallen motor-cycle, pointing the gun he was holding in his hand at the driver. As he approached the station wagon he fired a shot into the road near the rear of the station wagon. The driver and her passenger got out of the station wagon and as the driver walked away the gunman fired another shot into the ground, got into the station wagon and sped away in the direction of Maxwell Road. The spent bullets from the two shots fired by the gunman into the road were later recovered and identified by the expert witness called by the prosecution as Win 9mm Luger Parabellum bullets.
We must return to the exchange of fire in the premises of Tin Sing Goldsmiths. Besides Karamjit Singh, Ou Kai San, the salesman, was also wounded. He was taken to the Singapore General Hospital for surgical treatment during the course of which a spent bullet was recovered from the region of his neck. This too was later identified by the expert witness called by the prosecution as a Win 9mm Luger Parabellum bullet.
The four spent Win 9mm Luger Parabellum bullets we have referred to earlier were sent to the Criminalistic Laboratory together with Karamjit Singh`s Smith & Wesson revolver and the Llama pistol recovered from the person of the deceased. The evidence of the principal scientific officer from the Criminalistic Laboratory at the trial was that all four Win 9mm Luger Parabellum bullets were fired from the same gun and that gun could not be the Smith & Wesson revolver or the Llama pistol as neither of these two weapons could fire a Win 9mm Luger Parabellum bullet.
Later, on the evening of 19 November 1992, the station wagon No SBG 9374 B which the gunman had hijacked to make his getaway was found abandoned near Market Street. The Scene of Crime Unit dusted the station wagon for fingerprints and lifted from the inside of the top right hand corner of the glass pane of the door at the driver`s side a partial fingerprint mark. A fingerprint expert from the Criminal Records Office, Criminal Investigation Department, gave evidence at the trial that he found at least 16 matching characteristics between the partial fingerprint mark lifted from the station wagon and a print taken from the appellant`s left little finger which enabled him to make a positive identification that the partial fingerprint mark lifted from the station wagon was that made by the appellant`s left little finger. The reliability of the `fingerprint` evidence which was a key question at trial was not pursued on appeal.
It seemed clear to us, as it also seemed clear to the learned trial judge, that the four Win 9mm Luger Parabellum bullets were fired by the gunman who had hijacked the station wagon and had left the imprint of his left little finger on the inside of the top right hand corner of the glass pane of the door at the driver`s side.
Thus, the appellant who was arrested by the Malaysian police in connection with some alleged offences in Malaysia on 23 November 1993 and held at Bukit Mertajam Police Station until he was handed over to the Singapore police at Penang on 29 December 1993 was connected with the shooting at the premises of Tin Sing Goldsmiths on 19 November 1992 and the hijacking of the station wagon shortly thereafter.
The prosecution led further evidence from two witnesses who were acquainted with the appellant. Ng Swee Cheng, the girlfriend of the deceased, testified that the appellant, whom she knew as Ah Soon, was a friend of the deceased. She had first met the appellant when she was with the deceased in Penang in 1991. About a week before 19 November 1992 the deceased had come to Singapore and stayed with her at her flat. The appellant, too, was then in Singapore although she did not know where he stayed. She remembered going out to dinner with the appellant and the deceased. She also remembered that she had received a telephone call from the appellant at her flat inquiring after the deceased. On 19 November 1992 at about 7pm she had received a telephone call from the appellant who told her that the deceased had been shot at by the police. He sounded agitated and said that he had to leave for Malaysia immediately. He gave Ng Swee Cheng the pager number of the deceased`s elder brother in Penang and requested her to convey the bad news to him. Ng Swee Cheng had managed to do this through a commercial paging service in Penang.
The other witness, Han How Eng, testified that he was a friend of the appellant and that the appellant was in Singapore towards the end of 1992 when the appellant had stayed with him for five or six days during the visit. On the last day of this visit the appellant had telephoned Han How Eng at his place of work between 3pm and 4pm and told him that he was going back to Penang. When Han How Eng returned home that evening he found that the appellant had in fact left. He could not be more specific of the dates (towards the end of 1992) the appellant had stayed with him.
The evidence of these two witnesses was to connect the appellant further to the shooting at the premises of Tin Sing Goldsmiths on 19 November 1992 by showing that the appellant was in Singapore on that date up to between 3pm and 4pm if not to about 7pm.
After the appellant was brought back to Singapore on 29 December 1993 three statements were recorded from him under s 122(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code in respect of three charges with which he was charged. At trial the admissibility of these three statements was challenged but the learned trial judge, after a voir dire, admitted them in evidence as part of the prosecution`s case as having been made voluntarily. The admissibility of these three statements was not challenged on appeal.
In respect of the first charge he said:
I did not open fire. It was...
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