Public Prosecutor v Saengarun Ukhunthod

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeMPH Rubin JC
Judgment Date30 September 1993
Neutral Citation[1993] SGHC 232
Citation[1993] SGHC 232
Published date08 November 2012
Plaintiff CounselPalaniappan Sundararaj and Madeleine Loo Yen Lay (Deputy Public Prosecutors)
Defendant CounselN S Kang (N S Kang) (assigned)

Judgment:

Coram: Rubin JC

GROUNDS OF DECISION

Saengarun Ukhunthod (`the accused'), a Thai National was charged for an offence of murder under s 302 of the Penal Code (Cap 224) by causing the death of one Mana Tem-On on or about 30 April 1990 between 11.00pm and 11.25pm at No 1 Guillemard Road, Singapore.

Prosecution case

2 Evidence led by the prosecution is this. At about 11.28pm on 30 April 1990, Police Constables Low Siong Hai (`PC Low') (PW-4/PS-16) and Ng Yeow Chuah (PS-17) were instructed to proceed to the junction of Lorong 6, Geylang and Guillemard Circus to attend to a case of fighting. When they arrived at the scene at about 11.33pm, they noticed an injured male lying on the footpath along Mountbatten Road and Guillemard Circus with the front of his T-shirt soaked in blood. He was gasping for breath and was unconscious. PC Low found a trail of blood which led him to a coffee shop nearby. No one in the coffee shop seemed to know what had happened. Shortly thereafter at about 11.36pm, Jamilah Bte Taslim (PS- 15), an ambulance officer arrived at the scene. She found the injured in a bad way. She observed a gaping wound around the neck of the injured person. He was bleeding profusely. After having his wound dressed, the injured was carried into the ambulance and rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. On the way to the hospital, though oxygen was supplied, the injured had stopped breathing. Cardiac pulmonary resuscitation was given and the ambulance arrived at the Emergency Department of Tan Tock Seng Hospital at about 11.48pm that night.

3 At about 11.53pm Dr John Tan Choon Heng (`Dr Tan') (PS-31/PW-3) attended to the injured with a team of four doctors. The injured was in a collapsed state. Dr Tan noticed a horizontal slash wound about 16cm in length on the neck of the injured. He had no palpable pulse, no recordable blood pressure and was found to be not responsive. His trachea, right carotid artery and right jugular vein were severed. Attempts to resuscitate the injured were fruitless and he was pronounced dead at 0015 hours on 1 May 1990.

4 The forensic pathologist Prof Chao Tzee Cheng (`Prof Chao') (PW-19) performed an autopsy on the deceased at about 9.00am on 1 May 1990. In his autopsy report, Prof Chao noted two external injuries:

(1) A slightly slanting slash wound at the lower part of the front of the neck 13cm long with clean cut edges and completely cut the trachea. The right external jugular vein was cut at the level of the thyroid, the other blood vessels were intact.

(2) A horizontal cut wound on the front of left shoulder 5cm - only cut the skin and superficial layer of muscle.

5 In his testimony, Prof Chao said that the injuries could have been caused by a weapon similar to a cutter produced as an exhibit in court (P-70A). He added that considerable force was necessary to inflict the injury found on the neck. He estimated that force used was between seven and eight on a scale of ten. In his opinion, the injury found on the neck was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The cause of death given in the autopsy report was `haemorrhage due to cut right external jugular vein'.

6 The other main evidence for the prosecution relating to the fateful incident came from Somyos Sidokput (`Somyos') (PW-12) and Prayoon Thongchai (`Prayoon') (PW-13).

7 Somyos, a seaman, testified that Mana Tem-On (`the deceased'), Song Set-Chui (PS-8) (referred to by some witnesses as the `Chinese- looking man'), Suchart Chamneon (PS-7), and he arrived in Singapore on a fishing vessel at about 6.00pm on 30 April 1990. At about 7.00pm, the four of them left the vessel and went to Golden Mile Complex (`Golden Mile') to have dinner and beer. After spending some time at Golden Mile, the group including the deceased went to visit a brothel at Geylang. Later the four of them went to a coffee shop at Lorong 6 Geylang, where beer was ordered.

8 When they were seated at the coffee shop, Prayoon (a man with a moustache) came to ask them for directions to the toilet. A short while later, another man wearing a cap (subsequently identified as the accused) came to them and asked for a cigarette. He was given a cigarette after which he left the table. About ten minutes later, when the same man with the cap approached the table again, Somyos saw the deceased standing up. Somyos noticed presently that the man with the cap was running away from the table whilst the deceased was holding his neck. Somyos had earlier observed that the man who was running away was holding two knives, one knife in each hand and was staring at Somyos and his friends. Somyos clarified a while later that he was not sure whether the man with the cap had two knives but was positive that he had an orange-coloured knife in his hand with its blade extended. The deceased who was bleeding at his neck was assisted by Somyos and his friends. Later on after the arrival of the ambulance, Somyos accompanied the deceased to the hospital where he learnt that the deceased had succumbed to his injuries.

9 During cross-examination, Somyos mentioned that he was sober and not drunk at the material time. At the time the man with the cap approached their table, the deceased rose from his seat when that man was half a feet behind him. The deceased turned his head and body towards the man with the cap. The next thing he knew was that the deceased was holding his neck and the man with the cap was running away with the cutters in his hand. Somyos added that before the incident, he had not anticipated any trouble and was not aware of any misunderstanding between the deceased and the man with the cap. He said everything happened swiftly and the man with the cap ran away immediately after the incident.

10 Prayoon testified that on 30 April 1990, he and his friend Kaew Lerprasit (PS-9) went to Golden Mile to have their lunch. At about 3.00pm, the accused (known also as Rak), Riab and Lai (sometimes referred to herein as Wilai) came to join them. All of them drank beer at Golden Mile.

11 At around 9.00pm, the group decided to go to a discotheque which was situated at the second floor of Golden Mile. The accused did not join them. Whilst Prayoon was somewhere at the staircase, he saw the accused placing a red-coloured cutter (similar to exh P-70A) in his shoes. At around 9.30pm and when the five of them including the accused were intending to board a taxi to go to Geylang, Prayoon noticed the accused grabbing the collar of one male Thai. Later on the group went to a coffee shop at Lorong 6 Geylang by two different taxis where they ordered beer. A short while later, Prayoon decided to go to the toilet. On the way he walked past a table and asked someone at that table for directions to the toilet. On his return from the toilet he met the accused. The accused muttered to him `something like wanted to box someone' (page 108 of the verbatim notes).

12 After Prayoon had gone back to his table, the accused too returned. The accused who sat down presently stood up and uttered the words: `I want to kill someone.' The accused then walked about with his hands behind him and then proceeded towards the table where Prayoon had earlier asked someone for directions to the toilet. Prayoon added that he saw the accused in possession of a cutter and when the accused was about two to three metres from the other table, he was seen raising both his hands. The accused at that point of time was observed to be having two cutters, one in each hand. Prayoon did not notice anything else. Thereafter the accused was not seen. Prayoon testified that the accused was wearing a cap at the material time.

13 When cross-examined, Prayoon said that there was no pre-arranged plan to meet the accused on 30 April 1990 at Golden Mile. The accused arrived at about 3.00pm and Riab and Lai followed shortly. By about 9.00pm they had consumed about 20 bottles of beer amongst themselves. After arrival at Geylang, they shared another five or six bottles of beer. He added that amongst them, Kaew consumed more beer than the others. He mentioned that by about 9.00pm he was very drunk. His vision was blurred and his hearing too was affected.

14 Defence counsel made an application to impeach the credit of Prayoon. He went through the depositional statement made by Prayoon before the examining magistrate (exh D-1) and asked Prayoon to explain certain discrepancies between his evidence in court and his depositional statement. The tabulation of the so-called discrepancies and the explanations by Prayoon in court as produced to the court by counsel are as follows:

Evidence in court Deposition Explanation

1) Not introduced to Introduced to Deposition...

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