Public Prosecutor v Tan Chor Jin

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeTay Yong Kwang J
Judgment Date22 May 2007
Neutral Citation[2007] SGHC 77
Citation[2007] SGHC 77
Published date24 May 2007
Plaintiff CounselEdwin San and Chew Chin Yee (DPPs)
Defendant CounselAccused in person

22 May 2007

Judgment reserved.

Tay Yong Kwang J:


1 The accused (referred to by the media as the “One-eyed Dragon” because he has an opacity over the cornea of his right eye, which became blind some seven or eight years ago), is now 41 years old. He appeared in person in this trial, having discharged counsel before the preliminary inquiry and having refused legal representation by counsel assigned to him by the Registrar of the Supreme Court. At the commencement of the trial, the accused confirmed that he did not wish to have legal representation and that he wanted to conduct the trial on his own. He spoke mainly in Mandarin but would switch to simple (and often unstructured) English every now and then.

2 The trial involves the following amended capital charge under the Arms Offences Act (Cap 14, 1998 revised edition):

You, Tan Chor Jin,

on the 15th day of February 2006, at Blk 223 Serangoon Avenue 4 #02-183, Singapore, did use an arm, namely a Beretta, 0.22 Calibre pistol by discharging 6 rounds from the said pistol, with intent to cause physical injury to one Lim Hock Soon, male/40 years, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 4(1) read with section 4(2) of the Arms Offences Act, Chapter14.

3 The said Lim Hock Soon (“the deceased”) suffered five gunshot wounds in various parts of his body. He was found in a prone position and was pronounced dead in the flat stated in the above charge (“the Serangoon flat”) by a paramedic who was called to the scene subsequent to the shooting incident which took place at about 7am that morning.

4 The Serangoon flat is located in a public housing estate. The deceased lived with his wife, their daughter and a female Indonesian domestic worker in that flat. The flat has three bedrooms. On one side was the master bedroom occupied by the deceased and his wife. On the other side was the bedroom occupied by their 13 year old daughter (“S's bedroom”). The bedroom in between was used by the deceased as a study room (“the study room”). The study room contained (among other things) a piano, a computer on a table, a safe, a television, cabinets and three chairs (a black metal one with a cushion seat, a wooden one and a black swivel chair). The shooting incident took place in this room and it was here that the deceased was found lying dead on the floor.

The prosecution’s case

5 Forty seven witnesses testified for the prosecution. Lim Choon Chwee (“Ah Chwee”) was the accused’s childhood friend. The accused was known as Tony Kia to his friends. The two of them used to belong to the same secret society. Ah Chwee held the accused in high regard.

6 In the early hours of the morning of 15 February 2006, one James Tan informed Ah Chwee that the accused was looking for him. Ah Chwee then went to James Tan’s flat and drove James Tan’s car, a Nissan Cefiro with the registration number SFY 4444 Z (“the Nissan Cefiro”), to the accused’s flat at Block 247 Hougang Avenue 3 at about 3am. There, the accused asked Ah Chwee to drive him to Block 223 in Serangoon Avenue 4 (“the deceased’s block”). The accused sat in the front passenger seat. He was carrying a black clutch bag.

7 They arrived at the carpark of the deceased's block about 15 minutes later. There, the accused pointed out two cars to Ah Chwee, both bearing registration number plates “9699”. The accused alighted from the car and walked towards the deceased's block. Ah Chwee remained in the car. Some ten minutes later, the accused returned to the car and asked Ah Chwee to drive him to James Tan’s ground floor flat at Block 515 Hougang Avenue 10. Along the way, the accused asked Ah Chwee in Hokkien, “Where can a Rolex watch be robbed?”. When Ah Chwee asked him why, the accused said luck was not with him and he was facing financial problems.

8 When they arrived at James Tan’s flat at around 4am, the accused placed his black clutch bag beneath the front passenger seat before alighting from the car. They then spent the next two hours or so watching some football game in the flat.

9 At about 6am, the accused asked Ah Chwee to drive him to the deceased's block again. When they arrived at the carpark there the second time, the accused took the black clutch bag and then alighted. The accused was wearing a black t-shirt and black pants and had a black cap on. He told Ah Chwee to wait for him in the car near a school opposite the deceased's block. Ah Chwee complied.

10 About half an hour later, the accused returned to the car, appearing nervous and more excited than usual. He was carrying a white plastic bag which appeared to be bulky and his black clutch bag. He instructed Ah Chwee to drive to “the river”. When Ah Chwee asked for clarification, he told him to take the route to James Tan’s flat.

11 While they were travelling along Upper Serangoon Road, the accused pointed to a canal on the other side of the road and told Ah Chwee to do a U-turn. Ah Chwee did so and then stopped the car. The accused went out of the car with his black clutch bag but not the white plastic bag and walked down a path leading to the canal. He returned some five minutes later and asked Ah Chwee to drive to James Tan’s flat again.

12 When they arrived, the accused left the white plastic bag in the car and went into the flat with Ah Chwee. There, the accused woke up his friend called Moh Tang. The three of them then returned to the carpark where the accused transferred the white plastic bag from the Nissan Cefiro to a car bearing a Malaysian registration plate. Before the accused left in the latter vehicle with Moh Tang as the driver, he told Ah Chwee to read the evening’s newspapers.

13 From the evening’s newspapers, Ah Chwee learnt about the shooting incident at the deceased's block and knew that the accused must have been involved in it. He then decided to surrender himself to the police the next day.

14 On 16 February 2006, Ah Chwee led the police to the canal where the accused was the day before. He learnt subsequently that a gun was recovered by the police from the canal.

15 Under cross-examination, Ah Chwee confirmed that the accused normally bought hard liquor for his friends and was a drinker too.

16 James Tan also knew the accused as Tony Kia. They were from the same secret society at one time. On the night of 14 February 2006, James Tan returned to his flat, which functioned as a small temple as well, and found the accused and Moh Tang, a Malaysian, there. They had supper together. The accused asked James Tan to solicit donations from his friends for a Taoist temple in Johor Baru. James Tan contacted Joseph Liew who told him that he was having drinks with some friends at a coffee shop at Braddell Road. The three men then left in a Malaysian registered car driven by Moh Tang to join Joseph at the coffee shop, arriving there past midnight.

17 At the coffee shop, the accused asked James Tan to contact Ah Chwee. The accused also insisted on showing Joseph Liew a tiger hide and some religious pendants which he wanted to sell. At about 2.30am, they left the coffee shop for the accused’s flat together with Joseph Liew. The accused brought Joseph Liew up to his flat while Moh Tang drove James Tan home. Ah Chwee was already at James Tan’s flat. Ah Chwee then took the car keys and drove the Nissan Cefiro to go and meet the accused.

18 Sometime after 3.30am, the accused and Ah Chwee returned to James Tan’s flat to watch the football match on television. The accused asked James Tan to place a $500 bet for the match between the English football clubs Liverpool and Arsenal. After watching the match, the accused told Ah Chwee to follow him. The two of them then left the flat at about 6am on 15 February 2006.

19 James Tan went to sleep a little later, waking up at about 3pm. By then, the accused, Moh Tang and Ah Chwee were not in his flat anymore. At about 9pm, James Tan received a telephone call from the accused in Malaysia. The accused asked him whether he had watched the news on television. James Tan then turned on the television to watch the Chinese news on channel U. He learnt about the shooting incident. From the description given about the killer, James Tan suspected that the killer was the accused. He asked the accused about this, adding that such crimes carried the death penalty. The accused merely laughed and told him to place bets on another football match. Some hours later, Ah Chwee told James Tan he wanted to surrender to the police as he was uneasy that someone had been killed. When the accused spoke to James Tan again at about 5pm on 16 February 2006, James Tan told him that Ah Chwee had gone to the police. The accused then told him to keep him informed of any developments.

20 Under cross-examination by the accused, James Tan confirmed that they had started drinking alcohol between 8pm and 9pm on 14 February 2006 until the morning. James Tan also said that he heard that the accused had made a RM100,000 or so donation to a temple in Malaysia sometime in 2005/2006. The accused had also passed James Tan S$30,000 on one occasion to purchase a religious pendant. It was not the accused’s nature to borrow money from others. Upon his recall at the request of the accused, James Tan confirmed that the accused had driven a Mercedes 240 and, after that, a BMW in Malaysia. He also said that the accused had, at some time, 4 shops in Malaysia selling Chinese medicine.

21 Joseph Liew, a director of a construction company, testified that the accused did drink beer at the coffee shop at Braddell Road. That was the first time that he was introduced to the accused. He went to the accused’s flat that early morning as the accused was quite insistent on showing him the tiger hide. When he declined to buy it at the offered price of S$15,000, the accused asked him for a loan but did not indicate how much he wanted. Joseph Liew told him he could not get the money at that hour. He then left the accused’s flat without lending any money to the...

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2 cases
  • Tan Chor Jin v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 18 July 2008
    ...was convicted by the High Court for an arms offence pursuant to s 4 of the Arms Offences Act (Cap 14, 1998 Rev Ed) (see PP v Tan Chor Jin [2007] SGHC 77 (“the Judgment”)). Briefly, Tan was found guilty of discharging six rounds from a 0.22 calibre Beretta (“the Beretta”) with intent to caus......
  • Tan Chor Jin v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 18 July 2008
    ...was convicted by the High Court for an arms offence pursuant to s 4 of the Arms Offences Act (Cap 14, 1998 Rev Ed) (see PP v Tan Chor Jin [2007] SGHC 77 (“the Judgment”)). Briefly, Tan was found guilty of discharging six rounds from a 0.22 calibre Beretta (“the Beretta”) with intent to caus......

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