Public Prosecutor v Chan Kin Choi

JudgeChan Sek Keong J
Judgment Date29 December 1988
Neutral Citation[1988] SGHC 96
Citation[1988] SGHC 96
Defendant CounselManjit Singh (Manjit Dharshan & Partners)
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselAng Sin Teck (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Date29 December 1988
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 4 of 1986
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterCautioned statement,Murder,Criminal Law,ss 96, 300 exceptions 1, 2 & 4 Penal Code (Cap 103, 1970 Ed),s 122(5) & 122 (6) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) s 122(5) & 122 (6),Admissibility,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Intention,Whether cautioned statement substantive evidence of truth of its contents when admitted as part of prosecution evidence,Whether accused has discharged burden of proving defences under exceptions 1, 2 and 4 to s 300 of Penal Code,Offences,Statements,Whether reasonable doubt exists in prosecution's case that accused intends to kill deceased

(delivering the grounds of decision of the court): The accused was tried before on us on the following charge, ie:

That you Chan Kim Choi on or about 8 April 1985 at about 9pm at `Big A` Fried Chicken Restaurant, Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre, Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore, committed murder by causing the death of one Lee Mui Kee, and you have committed an offence of murder, punishable under s 302 of the Penal Code (Cap 103).

At the conclusion of the case for the prosecution, defence counsel made a submission that the defence had no case to answer.
We found, on the basis of the law as stated in Haw Tua Tau [1981] 2 MLJ 49 , that the prosecution had made out a case against the accused which if unrebutted would warrant his conviction. Accordingly, we called on the accused, in the words of the standard allocution, to enter on his defence.

The accused elected to remain silent.
However, he called two witnesses. At the conclusion of the case for the defence and after hearing and considering the final submissions of counsel for the defence and the deputy public prosecutor, we convicted the accused of murder and sentenced him to death.

We now give our reasons for convicting him.

The case for the prosecution

The evidence adduced by the prosecution consisted of the testimonies of witnesses at the scene of the incident, medical evidence on the stab wound and the cause of death of the deceased, and a voluntary statement made by the accused under s 122(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68).

The deceased, one Lee Mui Kee, died from a single stab wound inflicted on the left side of his neck.
Prof Chao Tzee Cheng (PW3), a forensic pathologist, testified that he went to the `Big A` Fried Chicken Restaurant at about 11pm on 8 April 1985 in answer to a call from the police. There he found the deceased, already dead, lying in a pool of blood on the floor with a stab wound on the neck on the left side and another cut wound at the back of the right wrist. He did a post-mortem on the deceased the next day and made the following finding:

Stab wound on left lower neck 6 cm long with the blunt end inside and sharp end outside plunging downwards and backwards from left to right side of the body at an angle of 45 degrees. It had transected the left common carotid artery, the oesophagus, the trachea and the right common carotid artery. It went over to the right side making a through and through wound on the right upper lobe of lung and ended up at the parietal pleura at the back of right 6th and 7th intercostal space cutting the 7th rib. The total depth was 24 cm. This was a fatal wound.

Cut at the back of right wrist 3 cm.
Superficial wound.

Prof Chao was of the opinion that in view of the depth of the stab wound and the injuries suffered by the deceased, the stab wound in the neck had been inflicted with considerable force.
The whole of the blade of the knife had gone into the neck and had transected various internal parts thereof. He said that it would not be possible to save someone with such injuries and that the deceased would have died a few minutes after being so stabbed. He was also of the opinion that the cut wound on the wrist was a defensive wound. He said that the stab wound was consistent with having been inflicted by either of the two knives which were found at the scene of the incident.

The said two knives were found at the scene of the incident by Lee Kok Kian (PW19) who was the first police officer to arrive there and who preserved the scene of the incident.
As shown in P20 the knife which was heavily stained with blood was slightly less than 24 cm in length whilst the other was just over 24 cm long.

The prosecution called five witnesses to testify what they had seen at the time of the incident.
We summarize below their testimony.

(a) Lee Leong Huat (PW10), who was employed as a supervisor at the restaurant, said that at about 8.20pm the restaurant was not crowded and that he had taken an order for a jug of beer and some chicken from the accused and the deceased who were sitting at table 2. He could not remember if they were later joined by any other person. At about 9pm, whilst in his office, he heard a commotion and a scream in the restaurant. He came out of his office and saw a man (the accused) chasing another man (the deceased). The deceased was running towards table 9 and he had a lot of blood on his neck. The accused caught up with the deceased near table no 8 (see P51). PW10 saw the accused press his left hand against the chest of the deceased. The accused was about to stab the deceased when the latter fell onto the floor. The accused then ran away. He confirmed that he saw the two knives lying on the floor as shown in P17. He then called the police.

Counsel for the accused applied to impeach the credit of this witness on the ground that there was a discrepancy between his testimony in court that he saw only two persons sitting at table 2 and his statement made on 14 September 1985 wherein he had stated there were two other persons who had come into the restaurant and walked towards table 2.
We allowed the application. When cross-examined about this discrepancy, the witness agreed he had made the statement and confirmed the truth of its contents, although he could not remember any details concerning the two men who came in. He was also cross-examined on another discrepancy between his testimony that when he first saw the deceased, the latter was at a point near to table 8 and his statement wherein he had said that the deceased was staggering from table 2. However, the witness was positive the accused had chased the deceased.

In our view, we were not in a position to conclude that the credit of this witness had been successfully impeached.
Both his statement and his oral testimony were given a long time after the incident and it was not improbable that he could not have remembered in exact detail what crossed his vision as he came out of his office. However, there was consistency in his evidence about the accused having chased the deceased although he could not remember exactly where the chase had started from or where the deceased was when he first saw him. There was, however, evidence that the two knives were found lying near on either side of the body of the deceased. PW8 subsequently also testified that she saw the accused chasing the deceased and was about to stab the deceased when he collapsed, whereupon the accused threw away the knife and ran away. These two bits of evidence, unless disbelieved or rebutted, would tend to show that the accused had certainly ran after or in the same direction as the deceased. It would not be unreasonable for the witness to describe this as a chase. Accordingly, we did not think that the credit of this witness had been impeached.

(b) Toh Kwee Choo (PW7), another supervisor at the restaurant, also testified that she had been instructed by PW1O to and did serve a jug of beer and glasses to the deceased and the accused at table 2. She could not remember what shirt the accused was wearing. She also recalled seeing two or three persons coming into the restaurant later but she was unable to say whether these persons sat at table 2. Not long after their arrival, she heard noise of tables and chairs falling over. She was then standing at the service counter with her back to table 2. She turned round and saw the deceased running towards table no 9. He was then in front of the dispenser counter and there was blood on his neck. She also saw the accused holding a knife and chasing the deceased. At table 9, the deceased turned round. The accused then tried to stab the deceased a `second` time but before he could do so, the deceased fell on the ground. The accused then ran out of the restaurant.

Counsel for the accused also applied to impeach the credit of this witness on the ground that in her previous statement made on 13 September 1985 she had not said anything about the accused chasing the deceased and trying to stab him.
We allowed counsel to cross-examine the witness on the statement of 13 September 1985. In cross-examination, she explained that although she did not see the accused stabbing the deceased the first time, she thought that he must have done so as there were only two persons at table 2. However, she admitted that she had not, in her statement, disclosed that she saw the accused chasing the deceased and trying to stab him. Her reason for not having done so was that she was confused and frightened. She admitted that the investigation officer, Johnny Ho (PW28), had questioned her on whether she had seen the accused chasing or trying to stab the deceased and that she had not given a reply. PW28 subsequently testified that he had questioned her on these matters and that if she had given such answers, they would have appeared in her statement. In view of this, we considered that her evidence on the chase and the attempted stabbing was not reliable and we ignored it when calling for the defence.

(c) Chng Siew Choo (PW8), a waitress employed at the restaurant, said that at about 8pm she saw two male Chinese sitting at table 2. She heard them talking in a normal fashion. At about 9pm another two male Chinese came in and walked towards table 2. One of them asked her for an empty drinking glass. She brought it to table 2. The situation at table 2 remained normal. Half an hour later, while standing at the cashier`s counter, she heard the noise of tables failing over from the direction of table 2. She then saw the deceased running from table 2 and bleeding from the neck being chased by the accused. The accused tried to stab the deceased `one more time` but did not do so as the deceased was `dead` and leaning against table 9. The accused then threw away the knife and ran away. She could not recognize which knife the accused had been holding whilst chasing the deceased. The other two male Chinese who had come in...

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