Public Prosecutor v BPK

JudgeWoo Bih Li J
Judgment Date14 February 2018
Neutral Citation[2018] SGHC 34
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberCriminal Case 10 of 2017
Published date17 February 2018
Hearing Date17 April 2017,13 April 2017,07 July 2017,06 July 2017,11 April 2017,10 February 2017,09 October 2017,10 July 2017,18 August 2017,09 February 2017,12 April 2017,01 February 2017,03 February 2017,18 April 2017,31 January 2017,02 February 2017
Plaintiff CounselBhajanvir Singh, Lim Ai Juan Daphne and Chong Kee En (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Defendant CounselRengarajoo s/o Rengasamy Balasamy (B Rengarajoo & Associates) and Tan Heng Khim (Apex Law LLP)
Subject MatterCriminal Law,Offences,Attempted murder,Special exceptions,Provocation
Citation[2018] SGHC 34
Woo Bih Li J: Introduction

On the morning of 20 December 2013, the accused (“the Accused”), attacked the victim (“the Victim”) with a knife and inflicted multiple stab and slash wounds to the Victim’s head, neck, chest, abdomen, back and arms. The Victim survived, albeit with permanent injuries. The Accused now faces one charge (“the Charge”) for attempted murder causing hurt under s 307(1) of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) (“PC”):

You… are charged that you, on the 20th day of December 2013, at about 8.30 am, at the void deck of [a HDB block in the west of Singapore], did inflict multiple stab and slash wounds to [the Victim] on her head, neck, chest, abdomen, back and arms with a knife measuring about 33 cm, with such intention and under such circumstances that, if by that act you had caused the death of the said [Victim], you would have been guilty of murder, and by such act you did cause hurt to the said [Victim], and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 307(1) of the Penal Code (Chapter 224, 2008 Revised Edition).

The Prosecution’s case was that the Accused had attacked the Victim with the intention to kill her. The Defence’s primary arguments were that the Accused had, at the material time of the incident, neither the capacity to form intent, nor did he in fact have the intention to kill the Victim.

Facts Background

The Accused is an Indian national. He took a 3-year diploma course in civil engineering in India, even though he stopped studying after only one year because of financial issues.1 This diploma course was conducted in Tamil.2 However, for 10 years prior to the diploma, he studied in a school in India in the English medium.3 It appears that the Accused mostly conversed in Tamil while he was in India.4

The Accused first came to Singapore sometime in 2011 and has since worked in various companies. At the time of the alleged offence, he was 30 years old and was employed as a healthcare attendant at a local hospital (“the Hospital”). It was not disputed that the scope of the job essentially related to housekeeping, cleaning, and serving meals to patients.5 The Accused’s proficiency in the English language apparently improved while he worked in Singapore.6

At the time of the alleged offence, the Victim was 20 years old and a nursing student. She resided with her family in a HDB block in the west of Singapore (“the Block”).

Relationship between the Accused and the Victim

The Accused and the Victim became acquainted sometime in January or February 2013, while the Victim was attached to a ward of the Hospital where the Accused was a housekeeper.7 They got along well at the start.8

It was undisputed that the relationship between the Accused and the Victim became closer in March 2013.9 On the Victim’s account, the Accused’s attitude towards her gradually changed and he started behaving in a “mushy” manner towards her.10 Apparently, the Accused pursued her romantically and told her that he liked her even though he knew that the Victim had a boyfriend.11

The Victim’s friend (“S”) recounted that the Accused initially did not appear to be serious in his pursuit of the Victim,12 but subsequently became more persistent.13

The Victim testified that she initially decided to “play along with [the Accused]”, intending for this apparent relationship between her and the Accused to be a “joke”.14 S confirmed that the Victim had confided in her that the Victim was not serious in pursuing a romantic relationship with the Accused.15 The Accused did not appear to have known this. S also accepted that the messages exchanged between the Victim and the Accused may suggest to a third party that the Victim was romantically interested in the Accused.16

The Accused claimed that his relationship with the Victim commenced in March 201317 and had all along been a serious one. He also claimed that the Victim was the one who “got close” to him in March 2013.18 In March 2013, the Victim sent several messages to the Accused stating, amongst other things, “Ok da miss us… can’t wait to see u tmr”, “I love u…”, and “I want to be ur wife now”.19 The Victim also conceded that she had raised to the Accused on a few occasions in April 2013 the possibility of their getting married in the future.20

The Accused discovers the Victim’s other relationships
The Victim and C

Sometime in the latter half of 2013, the Accused discovered that the Victim had sent to a colleague, C, the “same type of messages” that she had been sending to the Accused.21 The Accused said that he was upset and confronted the Victim directly.22 He felt cheated.23 He did not speak to her thereafter for three days.24 Apparently, the Accused only forgave the Victim after she called him and apologised.25

The Victim, K and SH

At the outset, I note that it transpired in the course of the trial that the person known to the Accused as “SH” was in fact K.26 K was the younger brother of SH.27 The Prosecution pointed out this confusion of identities to the Accused at trial and the Accused confirmed that the person he thought was “SH” had in fact testified in Court earlier and introduced himself as K.28 Thus, for consistency of reference, I will hereinafter use the name “K” in lieu of the Accused’s reference to “SH”.

Some context is necessary to appreciate the relationship between the Accused, the Victim, and K. Apparently, sometime before October 2013, the Accused had engaged in a conference call with the Victim and K. This conference call was arranged by the Accused on the Victim’s request.29 At that time, the Accused was told by the Victim that K was the Victim’s relative.30 K confirmed that this conference call happened, but added that he had told the Accused that the Victim was already in a relationship and was not interested in the Accused.31 The Accused denied that K had told him that the Victim was involved in a romantic relationship with someone else.32 At that time, he did not doubt the Victim’s account that K was her relative.33

Subsequently, in October 2013, the Accused came to find out that the Victim was sending intimate messages to K.34 The Accused testified that he did not know how he felt when he realised that the Victim was communicating with K.35 However, he maintained that he did not think that the Victim was a “cheating girl”.36 In fact, during a fire-walking festival around then, the Accused claimed to have taken part in the festival and prayed for the Victim.37

The fall out between the Victim and the Accused
The Victim’s account

According to the Victim, she decided that she would stop “playing along” with the Accused and no longer wanted to have any contact with him sometime in the second half of 2013.38 Thus, she apologised to the Accused in person and told him that “it was a joke all along”.39

The Accused reacted to the Victim’s apology with denial and anger. He harassed her by making repeated calls to her and her friends.40 The Victim’s friend, S, also recounted that the Accused had called her after the Victim stopped talking to him. S told the Accused to stop calling her (S) and to stop disturbing the Victim.41

Despite being told by the Victim to stop disturbing her,42 the Accused continued to call her up to 30 to 40 times a day and send multiple messages to the Victim, telling the Victim variously that “… I want want u back…” and that “U are the cheating girl”, “U cheat my money”.43 On 17 November 2013, the Accused also sent a message to the Victim saying, “Now u going to sofer”,44 which the Victim understood to mean “Now, you are going to suffer”.45 A transcript of these messages was adduced in Court. The transcript further indicated that the Victim’s last message to the Accused was on or around 17 November 2013.46 Even though the Victim had blocked the Accused’s number on her phone,47 the Accused continued to contact her using another number.48

In addition, around September or October 2013, the Accused apparently accosted the Victim while she was walking home, and she had to beg him to be let go.49 The Accused also threatened to turn up at the Victim’s school or home, and to upload her photographs on Facebook with statements that she was his girlfriend.50

Apparently, the Victim had also borrowed a sum of around $50 to $100 from the Accused. The Accused in his messages to the Victim accused her of cheating him of his money (see [17] above). According to the Victim, she tried to transfer the money back to the Accused rather than hand him cash in person in order to retain some evidence that she had returned the money. However, whenever she asked the Accused for his account number the Accused would suggest a meet up in person. The Victim was reluctant to accede to such a meeting.51

In her conditioned statement, the Victim also recounted an undated incident when she gave in and met the Accused in person. When they met, she apologised to him and told him to forget everything. He turned aggressive and started pulling her hand and refused to let her go. He released her only when she shouted at him to let go, and thereafter stopped following her only after she warned him that she would call the police if he continued to do so.52

The Victim’s evidence was that she did not report the harassment and threats of the Accused to the police because the Accused was supporting his family back in India and she did not want to affect his rice bowl.53

The Accused’s Account

The Accused denied being told by the Victim that she had only been playing around with him and that it was all a joke.54 When asked whether the Victim had made it clear to him by September or October 2013 that she no longer wanted to have anything to do with him, the Accused maintained that he could not remember.55

Nevertheless, the Accused accepted that he was angry in or around December 2013, which was the month in which the alleged offence occurred.56 The targets of and...

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7 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v GCK and another matter
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 22 January 2020
    ...speaking, the evidential burden can shift to the opposing party once it has been discharged by the proponent: see Public Prosecutor v BPK [2018] SGHC 34 (“BPK”) at [144]–[145]. The opposing party must then call evidence, or take the consequences, which may or may not be adverse: see Anti-Co......
  • Public Prosecutor v Kong Swee Eng
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 24 June 2020
    ...of fact: at [132]. Sufficient evidence refers to “the production of evidence to engage each of the…premises to the issue [in question]”: PP v BPK [2018] SGHC 34 (“BPK”) at [146]. The evidential burden can shift to the opposing party once it has been discharged by the proponent: GCK at [132]......
  • Public Prosecutor v P Mageswaran and another appeal
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 11 April 2019
    ...the other limbs under s 300 but the converse for obvious reasons is not true. The decision of the High Court in Public Prosecutor v BPK [2018] SGHC 34 is a case in point. The accused there was charged with attempted murder under s 307(1) of the Penal Code. The charge stated that the accused......
  • Roshdi bin Abdullah Altway v Public Prosecutor and another matter
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 11 November 2021
    ...burden can shift to the opposing party once it has been discharged by the proponent (see Nabill at [69]; and Public Prosecutor v BPK [2018] SGHC 34 at [144]–[145]). We considered these issues in Nabill and according to the Prosecution, our observations there at [70]–[71] have been misinterp......
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