Public Prosecutor v Kong Peng Yee

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeSundaresh Menon CJ
Judgment Date27 June 2018
Neutral Citation[2018] SGCA 31
Citation[2018] SGCA 31
Published date30 June 2018
Plaintiff CounselTan Wen Hsien, Sarah Shi and Daphne Lim (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Defendant CounselSunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam Hian Theng (Quahe Woo & Palmer LLC)
Date27 June 2018
Hearing Date22 January 2018
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 52 of 2017
Subject MatterOffences,Mentally disordered offenders,Criminal law,Criminal procedure and sentencing,Sentencing,Culpable homicide
Tay Yong Kwang JA (delivering the judgment of the court): Introduction

On 13 March 2016, the then 68-year-old Respondent killed his 63-year-old wife in a brutal and violent manner using a knife and a chopper. He pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under s 304(a) of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) (“the Penal Code”) and was sentenced by the High Court to two years’ imprisonment on 16 October 2017. As a result of backdating and remission of the sentence, the Respondent was released from prison on the day that he was sentenced. As the early release was unexpected by the Respondent’s two married daughters who were not prepared to house him in their homes, the Respondent was brought to the Institute of Mental Health (“IMH”) where he has been a voluntary patient since that day.

The Prosecution appealed against the sentence of two-year imprisonment on the ground that it was manifestly inadequate on the facts. We heard the appeal on 22 January 2018. At the conclusion of the hearing and upon Defence Counsel, Mr Sunil Sudheesan, confirming the Respondent’s undertaking that he would continue to stay in the IMH until this appeal is disposed of, we asked the Prosecution to obtain a further psychiatric opinion from the IMH on certain questions posed by us. The further psychiatric opinion dated 8 February 2018 was tendered by the Prosecution on 14 February 2018. Thereafter, the parties requested that they be allowed to make further written submissions on this psychiatric opinion. We granted them leave to do so sequentially and also directed them to submit specifically on a recommendation made by Dr Koh in the further psychiatrist opinion, which we will discuss later in this judgment. Accordingly, the Prosecution tendered its further submissions on 9 March 2018 and the Defence replied on 21 March 2018.

The charge

The charge against Kong Peng Yee (“the Respondent”) reads:

That you, Kong Peng Yee, on 13 March 2016, sometime between 3.00 p.m. and 4.38 p.m., at Block XXXX Compassvale Crescent #XX-XXX, Singapore, did commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder, by causing the death of one Wong Chik Yeok (female / 63 years old), to wit, by inflicting multiple incised wounds to the said Wong Chik Yeok’s head using a knife and a chopper, which acts were done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 304(a) of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed).

Culpable homicide is defined in s 299 of the Penal Code as follows:

Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.

Under s 304(a) of the Penal Code, an offender may be punished either with imprisonment for life with the option of caning or with imprisonment for up to 20 years with the option of a fine or caning. Caning is not applicable to the Respondent because of his age.

Facts The parties

The following are undisputed facts contained in the Statement of Facts. The Respondent is a Singaporean man presently aged 70. He was 68 years old at the time of the offence. He is a retiree. Prior to his retirement, he was employed as a technician with SIA Engineering Company.

The deceased, Wong Chik Yeok (“the Deceased”), was a Singaporean woman aged 63 at the time of her death. She was the Respondent’s wife for about 36 years.

The Respondent and the Deceased had two daughters, Kong Annie (“Annie”), aged 36, and Kong Yanni (“Yanni”), aged 27. At the time of the offence, the Respondent, the Deceased and Yanni lived together in the Housing and Development Board flat (“the Flat”) stated in the charge.

First Information Report

On Sunday, 13 March 2016 at about 4.38pm, Annie called the police and reported the following: “My father called my sister to say he has just killed my mother. I am rushing home now. Please send police to check.” The location of the incident was given as the Flat.

After receiving the call, police officers from Sengkang Neighbourhood Police Centre and paramedics from Lentor Ambulance were despatched to the Flat. The Respondent was placed under arrest at 4.56pm. The Deceased was pronounced dead by the paramedics at about 5pm.

Events leading to the incident

In October 2015, the Respondent attended at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital with complaints of headache and eye pain. He was treated with anti-glaucoma and anti-inflammatory medications and laser treatment was performed on him. In January 2016, the Respondent underwent surgery to remove a cataract in his right eye. Over time, the Respondent began to associate various other ailments like constipation, weakness of the knees, insomnia and weight loss with his surgery or his food intake. Although the Respondent sought medical attention for these ailments, he refused to consume the prescribed medication or to heed his doctor’s advice. For instance, he refused to consume laxatives to relieve his constipation as he believed that the laxatives were poisonous. The Respondent also believed that the Deceased and Yanni were trying to “torture” him by making him drink prune juice to relieve his constipation.

On Saturday, 12 March 2016, the Deceased, Annie and Yanni accompanied the Respondent to a clinic to collect his health check-up report. Although the report was not adverse, the Respondent continued to be worried about his health and felt that either someone was trying to harm him or he was suffering from some illness and was going to die.

Annie suggested that the Respondent and the Deceased spend that night at her home as she felt that a change of environment might do the Respondent some good. The Respondent and the Deceased agreed.

While at Annie’s home, the Respondent appeared troubled. He told Annie that she must take care of Yanni if he was not around. He also told Annie that he did not think she was his daughter. Annie asked the Respondent if he would abandon her if she was not his daughter and he assured her that he would not. The Respondent told Annie that he did not want her to go for DNA testing to verify if she was his daughter. Nothing else of significance happened that night.

On Sunday, 13 March 2016, Annie took the Respondent and the Deceased to her place of worship, Trinity Christian Church. While they were taking the lift in the church, the Respondent made some incomprehensible noises ending with “mad already!”. The Respondent kept quiet after that.

Later, when Annie accompanied the Respondent to a toilet in the church, they met one Pastor Alana. The Respondent suddenly said something to the effect of “God wanted me to return daughter to the rightful parent”. During the sermon, the Respondent told a stranger sitting beside him that people were poisoning him.

After the church service, Annie drove the Respondent and the Deceased back to the Flat. The Respondent said that he was tired and went to his bedroom to take a nap. The Deceased remained in the living room. Annie stayed for a while to chat with the Deceased before leaving the Flat at about 3pm to pick up Yanni.

The Respondent claimed that after Annie left the Flat, he heard some roaring sounds around his ears which woke him up from his nap. He walked to the kitchen and got a knife from the sink. He then walked out of the kitchen and saw the Deceased folding some clothes in the living room. He stabbed her from the back. The Respondent then moved in front of the Deceased where he continued to stab her repeatedly.

The Deceased struggled and the Respondent dropped the knife. The Respondent then proceeded to the kitchen to get a chopper, returned to the living room and used the chopper to continue his attack on the Deceased. The Respondent stopped hacking the Deceased with the chopper only when he realised that she was dead.

After he realised that the Deceased was dead, the Respondent rested on the sofa for a while before he called Yanni. Yanni was with Annie at the time and she missed the Respondent’s phone call. The Respondent then called his younger sister, Joanna Kong (“Joanna”), and told her that he had killed his wife. The Respondent told Joanna to call the police and to distribute his money to his two daughters. After the Respondent hung up, Joanna called Annie and instructed her to call the police and to wait for the police to arrive before going up to the Flat.

At around this time, Yanni realised that she had missed the Respondent’s phone call. When she called him back, the first thing her father said was, “I killed mommy.” Yanni told him not to talk nonsense and the Respondent replied, “Already killed.” Yanni continued engaging him in conversation over the phone while Annie drove them back to the Flat. Annie also called the police in the meantime (see the First Information Report at [9] above).

At about 4.45pm, Annie and Yanni arrived at the void deck of the Flat. The police arrived shortly thereafter. The two sisters went up to the Flat with the police. When Yanni opened the door, she saw the Respondent sitting on the sofa in the living room in blood-stained clothes and the Deceased lying motionless in a pool of blood on the floor next to the sofa. The Respondent appeared dazed and was quiet. A blood-stained chopper measuring 30cm long (with the blade measuring 19.5cm long and 8.5cm at its widest part) was seen near the Deceased’s left foot, while a blood-stained knife measuring 32.8cm long (with the blade measuring 20.8cm long and 3.8cm at its widest part) was seen near the Deceased’s body under the coffee table. The chopper and the knife were seized by the police subsequently.

At about 4.58pm, the paramedics arrived at the scene and the Deceased was pronounced dead at about 5pm.

Following his arrest, the...

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15 cases
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    • 11 March 2019
    ...normalcy of both the offender in question and the potential offenders sought to be deterred: see also Public Prosecutor v Kong Peng Yee [2018] 2 SLR 295 (“Kong Peng Yee”) at [69]. Thus, the precise weight to be accorded to general deterrence would depend on, among other things, the causal l......
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    ...against the law. His actions were a “maladaptive response to a difficult or depressive … situation”: Public Prosecutor v Kong Peng Yee [2018] 2 SLR 295 at [66] and [72]. The principle of Keeping in mind that deterrence was the primary sentencing consideration, though attenuated somewhat by ......
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    ...of sentencing prevail over the principle of rehabilitation. In the Court of Appeal’s decision in Public Prosecutor v Kong Peng Yee [2018] 2 SLR 295 (“Kong Peng Yee”), the court recognised that the following principles are relevant in sentencing an offender with a mental disorder falling sho......
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2 books & journal articles
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2019, December 2019
    • 1 December 2019
    ...5 SLR 926 at [92]. 105 [2017] 5 SLR 681. 106 [2020] 3 SLR 1275. 107 Public Prosecutor v Lim Chai Heng [2020] 3 SLR 1275 at [52]. 108 [2018] 2 SLR 295. 109 Public Prosecutor v Lim Chai Heng [2020] 3 SLR 1275 at [74]. 110 Public Prosecutor v Lim Chai Heng [2020] 3 SLR 1275 at [79]. 111 Public......
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2018, December 2018
    • 1 December 2018
    ...243 at [70]. 74 [2018] 5 SLR 799. 75 [2014] 2 SLR 998. 76 [2018] 5 SLR 852 at [36]. 77 [2018] 2 SLR 647. 78 See para 14.40 above. 79 [2018] 2 SLR 295. 80 Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed. 81 Public Prosecutor v Kong Peng Yee [2018] 2 SLR 295 at [65]–[66]. 82 Public Prosecutor v Kong Peng Yee [2018] 2 S......

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