Pp v Afr

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date17 March 2010
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 44 of 2009
Date17 March 2010
Public Prosecutor

[2010] SGHC 82

Lee Seiu Kin J

Criminal Case No 44 of 2009

High Court

Criminal Law—Offences—Culpable homicide—Section 299 Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed)

—Criminal Law—Offences—Murder—Section 300 (c)Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed)

On the day in question, the accused returned home from shopping with a doll he had bought, intending to give it to his two-year-old daughter for her upcoming birthday. He had been in a good mood until he saw, upon arriving home, his daughter chewing on his cigarettes. He scolded her but when she began to cry he grew stressed and started to hit her. The accused had intended to teach his daughter a lesson but her crying grew louder. In the heat of the moment, his varied and long-standing frustrations overcame him and he lost control of his emotions. His blows became more and more frenzied. His daughter died of a rupture to the inferior vena cava (‘IVC’) suffered as a result of the beating.

Held, convicting the accused:

(1) The multiple blows inflicted by the accused on his daughter had caused her death. He knew or ought reasonably to have known that his blows were likely to cause death and therefore he was, at the very least, guilty of culpable homicide: at [23].

(2) There was no evidence that the accused had intended to cause the death of his daughter. The remaining issue was whether the accused had acted ‘with the intention of causing bodily injury to [the deceased], and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death’ such that he would also be guilty of murder: at [23].

(3) In Virsa Singh v State of Punjab AIR 1958 SC 465, Bose J held at [11] that in the Indian equivalent to s 300 (c) of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed), the test as to whether a person had intended to inflict the injury found to be inflicted was simple and based on commonsense. However this did not mean that it covered every injury that resulted in death, no matter how remote the likelihood or how esoteric the mechanism: at [27].

(4) Following the approach of Lord Diplock in Ike Mohamed Yasin bin Hussin v PP [1974-1976] SLR (R) 596, the test in s 300 (c) of the Penal Code was to ask: to what extent might an accused person be imputed with the knowledge that, by carrying out the acts on the deceased, he would cause injury which would result in death? If, from the point of view of the accused, the injuries on the deceased were a remote outcome of his acts, it was insufficient to prove only that he had intended to commit those acts. It also had to be proven that it was within the accused's reasonable contemplation that such injuries could be the result of his acts. The thin skull rule could not apply in the criminal law: at [33] and [34].

(5) The true question was therefore whether the accused intended to inflict the particular fatal injuries on his daughter: at [35] and [36].

(6) The cause of the daughter's death was rupture to the IVC. This was a very rare injury and occurred most commonly in motor accidents or falls from heights. The expert witness could not say exactly how a rupture of the IVC could occur in the present case where the deceased was only punched and kicked without any bones being broken. Hence although the beating administered by the accused had been severe, it was outside his reasonable contemplation that it could have led to the rupture of the IVC: at [37].

(7) Consequently, when the accused hit his daughter, he could not be said to have intended to cause the particular fatal injury resulting in death: see . The accused was acquitted of the charge of murder but convicted of culpable homicide: at [42], [43] and [47].

Ike Mohamed Yasin bin Hussin v PP [1974-1976] SLR (R) 596; [1975-1977] SLR 34 (refd)

Mohammed Ali bin Johari v PP [2008] 4 SLR (R) 1058; [2008] 4 SLR 1058 (refd)

PP v Lim Poh Lye [2005] 4 SLR (R) 582; [2005] 4 SLR 582 (refd)

PP v Visuvanathan [1977-1978] SLR (R) 27; [1975-1977] SLR 564 (refd)

Tan Chee Wee v PP [2004] 1 SLR (R) 479; [2004] 1 SLR 479 (refd)

Tan Cheow Bock v PP [1991] 2 SLR (R) 608; [1991] SLR 293 (refd)

Tan Joo Cheng v PP [1992] 1 SLR (R) 219; [1992] 1 SLR 620 (refd)

Virsa Singh v State of Punjab AIR 1958 SC 465 (refd)

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) s 175 (1)

Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) ss 299, 300 (c) (consd) ;ss 300, 304 (b)

Cheng Howe Ming Winston, Stella Tan Wei Ling and Natalie Morris (Attorney-General's Chambers) for the Prosecution

Kanagavijayan Nadarajan (Kana & Co) and Ow Sin Min Francis (Archilex Law Corporation) for the accused.

Judgment reserved.

Lee Seiu Kin J


1 The deceased, described as a lively girl with a penchant for mischief and who cried very loudly, died on 6 January 2009 - 22 days short of her second birthday. The cause of death was certified as ‘haemopericardium, due to ruptured inferior vena cava’. The inferior vena cava (‘IVC’) is the large vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower half of the body into the right atrium of the heart. It had ruptured and the severe bleeding that followed caused her heart to fail. The deceased died within minutes of the rupture. Her father, [AFR], stands charged before me for murder. The charge states as follows:

that you, on the 6th day of January 2009, between 7.30 pm and 7.45 pm at [address redacted], did commit murder, by causing the death of one [the deceased], female, aged 1 year and 11 months old (D.O.B: 28 January 2007), and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 302 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224 (2008 Rev. Ed.).

Facts leading to the death

2 At 8.06pm on 6 January 2009, Sergeant Francis Wong (‘Sgt Wong’) and his ambulance crew (comprising of Corporal Hairil Izuan Bin Fadzil, Sri Nurul Hatta Bte Sa'Don and driver Sergeant Shamsul Jalala B Sahdan) were directed to attend a case where ‘medical assistance was required at the void deck of [address redacted] near to a temple’. Sgt Wong had some problem locating the caller at Blk [xxx], but after making several calls to the mobile number provided, the crew managed to find the location. There, they found [AFR] and his wife, [B]; she was carrying the deceased. Sgt Wong said that when he saw the deceased, she was already blue and showed no signs of life: there was no respiration, pulse or blood pressure. He applied cardiac pulmonary resuscitation on the deceased and also used a defibrillator. But it was to no avail - the deceased did not show any heartbeat throughout. Sgt Wong observed that the deceased had multiple bruises on her face, neck, arms, legs and back, and blood was oozing from her nose. On the way to the [V] Hospital, Sgt Wong recorded that [B] had informed him that [AFR] had kicked the deceased's back and punched her on various parts of her body because she had played with his cigarettes. [B] also said that [AFR] had beaten the deceased on many other occasions. Sgt Wong's evidence is, in large measure, corroborated by the testimonies of the rest of his crew.

3 Upon arrival at [V] Hospital, the deceased was immediately attended to by Dr [W]. Dr [W] testified that the deceased showed no signs of life: she was unresponsive and without heartbeat. Resuscitation efforts continued, but were stopped after about 30 minutes. Dr [W] pronounced the deceased dead at 9.28pm on 6 January 2009. He then conducted a visual examination of the deceased and observed multiple bruises on various parts of her body, as well as a bleeding nose and patulous anus (meaning that the anus was loose) with bloody ooze which suggested an anal tear.

4 Sergeant Keegan Goh (‘Sgt Goh’) and Sergeant Nur Hazlina Bte Abdul Rahman (‘Sgt Nur Hazlina’) were on duty at the [V] Hospital Police Post that night. They went up to [AFR] who was in the waiting area of the Accident and Emergency department where the deceased was being attended to. Sgt Goh asked [AFR] what had happened and he replied that he had slapped and punched the deceased as he was upset with her for playing with and eating his cigarettes. Sgt Goh asked [AFR] to go over to the Police Post for further questioning. At the Police Post, [AFR] told Sgt Goh that the deceased had been naughty and played with his cigarettes. He had slapped her three to four times, punched her in the back three to four times and punched her left arm twice. Sgt Goh said that a short while afterwards, [AFR] received a call on his mobile phone as a result of which he started crying and collapsed on the floor. It turned out that the call was from [B] and she told [AFR] that the deceased had died. Sgt Goh and Sgt Nur Hazlina helped [AFR] back up to the chair and eventually calmed him down. They then placed [AFR] under arrest for murder of the deceased.

5 The only two eye-witnesses to the events leading to the death of the deceased were her mother ( [B]) and father ( [AFR]). Their evidence was that on 6 January 2009, [AFR] had awakened late, at around 2.00pm. By that time [B] had bathed and dressed their three daughters. The deceased was the eldest; the other two, [C] and [D], were a year old and two months old respectively at the time. [AFR] went out and bought lunch for the family - nasi briyani for himself, chicken rice for [B] and chicken porridge for the deceased and [C]. He went home and after eating his lunch he fed [C] and the deceased. At about 6.30pm, [AFR] and [B] left the three children asleep in the Boon Lay flat and went to the nearby NTUC Supermarket to buy groceries. [AFR] saw some dolls for sale and suggested to [B] that they should buy one for the deceased as her birthday was approaching and he was afraid that he might not have another opportunity to buy something in time. [AFR] decided to buy two dolls in order to be fair to [C]. They paid for the items and returned to the [address redacted] flat at about 7.30pm.

6 [B] testified that [AFR] entered the flat first and while she was...

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