Public Prosecutor v Leong Siew Chor

JurisdictionSingapore
JudgeTay Yong Kwang J
Judgment Date19 May 2006
Neutral Citation[2006] SGHC 81
Date19 May 2006
Subject MatterStatements,Whether statement made by accused inadmissible due to breach of accused's constitutional right to counsel, non-compliance with procedure or lack of voluntariness,Prosecution seeking to rely on accused's earlier statement contradicting defence of consent to death,Accused charged with murder and pleading exception of consent to death as defence,Criminal Law,Whether deceased unconditionally and unequivocally consenting to death,Accused admitting to killing deceased but alleging that deceased had consented to death as part of suicide pact made with accused,Sections 300(a), 300 Exception 5 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Special exceptions,Article 9(3) Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Rev Ed), s 121 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed),Accused charged with murder of deceased,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Consent to death
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 4 of 2006
Published date22 May 2006
Defendant CounselSubhas Anandan and Sunil Sudheesan (Harry Elias & Partners)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Plaintiff CounselLau Wing Yum, Alvin Koh and Loke Shiu Meng (Deputy Public Prosecutors)

19 May 2006

Judgment reserved.

Tay Yong Kwang J:

1 In this case, aptly called the “Kallang body parts murder trial” by the local media, the accused was tried on the following charge which carries the mandatory death penalty:

[Y]ou, LEONG SIEW CHOR, between the 15th day of June 2005 at or about 9.30 a.m. and the 16th day of June 2005 at or about 9.15 a.m., at Block 114 Lorong 3 Geylang, #09-53, Singapore, did commit murder by causing the death of one Liu Hong Mei, Chinese National, female aged 22 years, Passport No. G04885744, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 302 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

2 From the start of the trial, defence counsel indicated that the accused was not disputing that he had caused the death of Liu Hong Mei (“the deceased”) but was relying on Exception 5 in s 300 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) (“Exception 5”) which would reduce the charge of murder to one of culpable homicide. Exception 5 provides:

Culpable homicide is not murder when the person whose death is caused, being above the age of 18 years, suffers death or takes the risk of death with his own consent.

Illustration

A, by instigation, voluntarily causes Z, a person under 18 years of age, to commit suicide. Here, on account of Z’s youth, he was incapable of giving consent to his own death. A has therefore abetted murder.

3 As a result of the stand taken by the accused, both the Prosecution and the Defence were able to agree on most of the material facts which were compendiously set out in three sets of agreed statements of facts. These agreed statements of facts were admitted into evidence pursuant to s 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”) (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed), thereby reducing the original number of prosecution witnesses to be called from 40 to only ten.

The agreed facts

4 The following facts are compiled from the agreed statements of facts and the undisputed evidence adduced during the trial. The accused is now 51 years old. Prior to his arrest in this matter, he was residing at the address stated in the charge (“the Geylang flat”). He is married with three grown-up children. He completed his pre-university education and National Service and then became an employee in what is now Singtel for some 20 years between 1976 and 1996. During the said employment, he took up a course in Singapore Polytechnic and obtained a diploma in Electronics and Communication Engineering in 1983. In February 1996, he decided to set up his own business. Unfortunately, it did not do well.

5 In April 1997, the accused joined Lucent Technologies Microelectronics Pte Ltd as a production supervisor. The company was restructured and became known as Agere Systems Singapore Pte Ltd (“Agere”). The accused was deployed in Team 3 at Agere’s factory in Serangoon North Avenue 5 and worked the permanent night shift from 7.00pm to 7.00am the next day. In May 2005, his gross monthly salary amounted to $3,743 (including his shift allowance).

6 The deceased was a Chinese National who had come from the People’s Republic of China (“China”) to work here as a work permit holder. She was residing in a rented room in a flat in a public housing estate in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3. She started working as a production operator in Team 4 in Agere in November 2002. Like the accused, she worked the permanent night shift. She was a diligent and motivated worker who always turned up for work and on time. For this, she was paid a monthly “perfect attendance” allowance of $30 from January to May 2005. Half of her monthly basic salary would be credited into her account with the Post Office Savings Bank (“POSB”) in the middle of the month while the remaining remuneration would be credited on the last day of the month. In May 2005, her total remuneration (inclusive of allowances and overtime pay) amounted to $1,400.60.

7 In January 2004, the accused was transferred from Team 3 to Team 4. He thus became the immediate supervisor of the deceased. In June 2004, upon the recommendation of the accused, the deceased was promoted and given greater supervisory duties, accompanied by a pay rise.

8 At about that time, the accused and the deceased began an intimate relationship. A fellow employee at Agere chanced upon the accused kissing the deceased once on her cheek in his office. An anonymous letter was then sent to Agere’s management. This resulted in both the accused and the deceased receiving a verbal warning from their employer. While the deceased acknowledged in writing the warning given, the accused refused to do so. Instead, he wrote a letter denying the allegation and appealing for further investigations to be conducted by the management. Further investigations were conducted but the management remained convinced that the allegation was true. However, as the rumours about the intimacy between the accused and the deceased had ceased by then, no further action was taken.

9 As will appear in the accused’s statement to the police, his off-days were Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, 13 June 2005, at about 10.30am, the accused and the deceased checked into Hotel 81 Gold in Geylang and the accused paid for four hours’ use of a room. They had sex twice. When the deceased was taking her shower later, the accused looked through her bag, hoping to find a comb. He saw her POSB Automated Teller Machine (“ATM”) card in her wallet. As he was aware of the deceased’s personal identification number (“PIN”) for the card, he decided to take the card without informing her. They checked out of the hotel at about 3.00pm.

10 Sometime after 5.00pm that day, the accused rode his bicycle from the Geylang flat to Tanjong Katong Complex. He was wearing a green sweater, a pair of blue shorts and a baseball cap. At a POSB ATM there, he used the deceased’s ATM card to withdraw $1,000 from her account. He then cycled to Joo Chiat Complex and withdrew another $100 from her account. He next cycled to Haig Road and attempted to withdraw another $1,000 from an ATM there. He was not successful.

11 The accused then cycled to Beach Road. At an ATM there, he attempted again to withdraw $1,000 from the deceased’s account. He was again unsuccessful. He then went across the road to Golden Mile Complex and used the deceased’s ATM card to make a purchase of some items amounting to $11.40 by means of electronic transaction. He then left for the Geylang flat.

12 The next morning, Tuesday, 14 June 2005, he put on the same attire as the one he wore the evening before and cycled again to the ATM at Haig Road. This time, he managed to withdraw $960 from the deceased’s account. He thus withdrew, without the knowledge or consent of the deceased, a total of $2,071.40 from her POSB account, using the ATM card that he had stolen from her at the hotel the day before.

13 Sometime in the afternoon that day, the deceased discovered that her ATM card was missing from her wallet. She called the accused and told him about it. When she went to update her bank book, she realised that unauthorised withdrawals had been made from her account. That evening, she went to make a police report about the loss of her ATM card. She also informed the police about the unauthorised withdrawals made over the two days. She was advised to notify the POSB about the said withdrawals as the bank might be able to help trace the culprit from the tapes of the closed circuit television (“CCTV”) located at its ATMs. Later that evening, the deceased informed the accused over the telephone about her police report and the advice of the police regarding the CCTV tapes.

14 Subsequently, the police requested the bank to produce the transaction histories of both the accused’s and the deceased’s POSB accounts for the month of June 2005. The bank also extracted the relevant portions of the tapes recorded by the CCTVs at the ATMs mentioned earlier. The relevant footage was transferred into a CD-ROM which was played in court. It showed the accused dressed in the manner described earlier. His face was not discernible as the CCTVs were all located above the ATMs and his cap’s visor was shielding his face. The Defence accepted that the man in the tape recording was the accused but pointed out the fact that he could not be identified by someone looking at the tape recording only.

15 It was not disputed that the accused asked the deceased to go to the Geylang flat in the morning of Wednesday, 15 June 2005 and that she did go there as requested. They were alone in the flat as the accused’s wife and eldest child were holidaying in Thailand, the second child was then staying in a hostel and the youngest child would not be home until past 6.00pm. At some point in time, while they were in the master bedroom of the flat, the accused strangled the deceased to death with a bath towel. The events that led to the strangulation were the focus of the contentious matters at the trial and will be dealt with later in this judgment.

16 After the deceased had become motionless and her face had turned a deathly bluish-black in colour, the accused laid her upper body on the bed. He then pulled her by the legs and dragged her lifeless body from the master bedroom into the kitchen. Outside the toilet in the kitchen, he stripped the deceased who was clothed in a white blouse, jeans, socks and undergarments. He then pulled her by the arms and dragged her naked body into the toilet. After that, he gathered her clothes and placed them in a plastic bag.

17 The accused then took a chopper which was in the kitchen and proceeded to dismember the deceased’s body, starting with the feet just above the ankles as they were the smallest parts. When he had difficulty cutting through the bones, he went to get a rubber mallet from the kitchen and used it to pound on the blunt side of the chopper until the bones broke. After cutting off both her feet, he went to get some newspapers from the living room. He used these to wrap up the feet and then placed them in a...

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7 cases
  • Tan Chor Jin v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 18 July 2008
    ...of interrelated issues, such as when an accused should be allowed access to counsel after he has been arrested (eg, PP v Leong Siew Chor [2006] 3 SLR 290 at [87]–[88]), whether an accused should be informed of his rights under Art 9(3) (eg, Rajeevan Edakalavan v PP [1998] 1 SLR 815 at [19])......
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    ...also did not affect the admissibility of the statements, so long as they were voluntarily obtained (Public Prosecutor v Leong Siew Chor [2006] 3 SLR 290 at [90]; Panya Martmontree and Others v Public Prosecutor [1995] 3 SLR 341 at [6]; and Public Prosecutor v Vanasan Sathiadew and Others [1......
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    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 18 July 2008
    ...of interrelated issues, such as when an accused should be allowed access to counsel after he has been arrested (eg, PP v Leong Siew Chor [2006] 3 SLR 290 at [87]–[88]), whether an accused should be informed of his rights under Art 9(3) (eg, Rajeevan Edakalavan v PP [1998] 1 SLR 815 at [19])......
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3 books & journal articles
  • THE PRIVILEGE AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION AND RIGHT OF ACCESS TO A LAWYER
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2013, December 2013
    • 1 December 2013
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2006, December 2006
    • 1 December 2006
    ...a person is arrested, he … shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.’ In PP v Leong Siew Chor[2006] 3 SLR 290 (‘Leong’), the High Court grappled with the issue of when an accused should be allowed access to counsel. In this case, widely known as the ......
  • Criminal Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2006, December 2006
    • 1 December 2006
    ...Responsibility Cases’[1999] Sing JLS 27 at 46). Consent as a partial defence to murder 11.18 The High Court case of PP v Leong Siew Chor[2006] 3 SLR 290 (‘Leong Siew Chor’) appears to be the first local decision where the partial defence to murder under Exception 5 was pleaded. The Exceptio......

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