Public Prosecutor v Russell Tan Rui Leen

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeMay Lucia Mesenas
Judgment Date26 December 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] SGDC 379
Citation[2008] SGDC 379
Publication Date13 March 2009
Plaintiff CounselLee Yih Gia (Veritas Law Corporation)
Defendant CounselCheryl Kam (Deputy Public Prosecutor)

26th December 2008

District Judge May Lucia Mesenas:

1 On 20th June 2008, the accused pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to his wife, Goh Hwee Suan, by stabbing and slashing her body with a knife, which offence is under section 326 of the Penal Code Cap 224.

2 The charge is set out below:

Exhibit “C1A” (DAC 40690/2007)

You, Russell Tan Rui Leen, male/39 years, NRIC No. S6982421H, are charged that you on the 30th September 2007, at or about 6.30 p.m. at Blk 409 Pasir Ris Drive 6, #07-409, Singapore, did voluntarily cause grievous hurt to one Goh Hwee Suan, by means of a knife with an 18-cm long blade, an instrument, which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, to wit, by using the said knife to stab and slash the body of Goh Hwee Suan, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 326 of the Penal Code Cap 224.

Statement of Facts

3 The Accused admitted to the Statement of Facts (Exhibit “PS1”) pertaining to the above charge, without qualification. The salient points are as follows:

(a) Investigations revealed that on the day in question at about 6pm, while the victim was watching television in the living room with their children, the accused confronted her over some family issue and a dispute subsequently broke out between them.

(b) The victim wanted to leave the house and picked up the house keys to open the padlock to the gate. However, the accused stood in front of her and questioned her as to where she was going. As the victim was unable to get past the accused, she then walked into the kitchen to prepare dinner. Whilst doing so, she made a call to the police informing that the accused refused to let her leave the house.

(c) Upon hearing this, the accused got angry and pulled the victim’s hair from the back. The accused then grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter and started stabbing victim over her chest and shoulder. The accused also slashed the victim over her arms and legs. When the accused realised that the knife was bent, he threw it aside and picked up a larger knife. The accused then continued stabbing and slashing the victim, who pleaded with the accused to stop but her pleas were ignored.

(d) At about 6.30pm on the same day, the accused’s neighbour, Mr Lee Choi Kiong (referred to as “Mr Lee”), heard the commotion from the unit. He went over to their unit and saw a set of keys hung in the keyhole of the padlock to the gate of the victim’s unit. Mr Lee then opened the gate and entered the unit, where he saw the victim squatting on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood and the accused’s back facing him.

(e) As Mr Lee walked towards the kitchen, the accused turned and faced him. The victim then uttered some words, which Mr Lee could not make out. The accused suddenly turned towards the victim and stabbed her back three times. Mr Lee tried to talk to the accused to ask him to stop but the accused walked towards him holding the knife in his right hand at face level. Mr Lee then fled towards his house and called for police assistance.

(f) Meanwhile, the victim took the opportunity and escaped into the kitchen toilet. However, the accused came into the toilet and continued stabbing and slashing the victim. At one point, the accused attempted to saw the victim’s neck with the knife but the victim managed to push the accused away. The accused then used his leg to step on the victim’s neck but the victim put up a struggle and kicked the accused in the groin. The accused then stopped his attack and left.

(g) Shortly after, the accused returned to the toilet. The accused then said that the victim was still alive and he continued stabbing and slashing the victim. At this juncture, their elder son told the accused to stop but the accused continued to stab and slash the victim.

(h) Upon the police’s arrival, the victim was conveyed to the hospital and the accused arrested. Two knives, including one with a blade measuring 18cm length and another which was bent, were seized as exhibits.

(i) The victim was warded in hospital from 30th September 2007 to 18 October 2007.

(j) The victim sustained multiple lacerations to her chest, back neck, face, right forearm, left shoulder, right third, fourth and fifth fingers, left upper limb, as well as a right ear stab wound, requiring surgical repairs. Furthermore, she also sustained a massive left haemothorax due to lacerated internal mamillary artery and vein, fracture rib requiring chest tube drainage and surgical thoracotomy.

4 Accordingly, the Accused was found guilty and convicted of the above charge.

Antecedents and Mitigation

5 The Accused is a first offender. In mitigation, Counsel for the defence highlighted the following mitigating factors as stated below (see Exhibit “D1”):

(i) The accused had pleaded guilty, thus saving time and costs for all parties concerned, in particular, he wanted to avoid any more distress to his children and the victim, by not having them re-live the incident as witnesses in the hearing.

(ii) The incident arose out of a history of deep marital discord during which the accused had to endure spousal abuse.

(iii) There was provocation by the victim especially on the day’s events leading to the incident in question. In particular, on the day prior to the incident, the victim had called the accused a liar and told their son, Bradley, lies about the accused, which caused the accused to be extremely upset and worried about the effect of the statements on Bradley. The quarrel continued to escalate with the victim daring the accused to kill her. The accused managed to walk away from the taunt. The next day, the victim refused to retract statements that she made of the accused and instead said that they were true and added two more lies about the accused, in particular, that he threatened to kill himself, which caused the accused to be extremely stressed and agitated as he was worried about Bradley who had previously expressed suicidal thoughts. The history of abusiveness by the victim aggravated and intensified the provocation on the day in question.

(iv) The incident was not pre-meditated as it arose out of a sudden and intense argument between the accused and the victim. The accused was still at the scene and in a daze when the police arrived.

(v) The accused fully co-operated with the police and was forthcoming during investigations.

(vi) The accused is not a threat to society. He would benefit from supportive counselling as recommended by the IMH psychiatrist, Dr Jerome Goh. Furthermore, Dr Douglas Kong is of the view that the accused needs help to cope with stress and to handle relationships, for which the accused was already seeking help from the Marine Parade Family Service Centre at the time the plea of guilt was taken.

(vii) The accused is deeply remorseful.

Accused’s background and personal circumstances

6 The accused is 39 years old at the time the plea was taken. He was born in Malaysia to a father who was a lawyer and a mother who was a nurse. He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Merit) degree from the National University of Singapore in August 1993. He majored in Marketing and obtained the Dean’s letter of commendation for his final examinations.

7 At the time of the offence, the accused was employed as an Associate Director and Investment Analyst (Technology) in NRA Capital Pte Ltd since March 2001. He was promoted in June 2007 to take the additional post of Head of the Investor Relations division of NRA capital.

8 Numerous character references and testimonials by colleagues, business associates and friends showed that the accused deeply cared for his family, including his wife and that the incident in question was completely out of synch with the accused’s personality and character.

Accused’s psychiatric condition

9 In the IMH report dated 22 October 2007 (Exhibit “P18”), Dr Jerome Goh had opined that the accused “had an acute stress reaction, which occurred in a background of chronic marital discord.” Further, the accused was assessed to be not of unsound mind at the time of the offence.

10 In Dr. Douglas Kong’s report dated 26 December 2007 (Exhibit “D1” on pages 32-33), he was of the view that the accused “is suffering from a Reactive Depression in which his son’s behavioural problems and his wife’s unreasonable behaviour both play a part in causing him to feel both stressed and trapped and hopeless. Provoked further by his wife…his actions of stabbing his wife can be understood as an emotional reflex to his beliefs about his wife being harmful to him and threat to his children.”

11 Dr Jerome Goh recommended that the accused would “benefit from supportive counselling to help him accept and deal with the uncertainties he now faces in his marriage and career.” Further, Dr Kong in his report, had also recommended that the...

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