Public Prosecutor v Too Yin Sheong

JudgeChan Seng Onn JC
Judgment Date28 August 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] SGHC 286
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Published date03 May 2012
Plaintiff CounselLee Sing Lit assisted by Warren Chik (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Defendant CounselRamesh Tiwary (Leo Fernando) (briefed) assisted by Philip Lam (Foo, Liew & Philip Lam) (assigned)
Citation[1998] SGHC 286

Judgment :

Cur Adv Vult

1. The accused, Too Yin Sheong, a 26 years old male Malaysian (Malaysian Identity Card Number 711226-01-5055), faced 17 charges. The prosecution proceeded only with the 1st charge. The remaining 16 charges of theft and cheating were stood down on the application of the prosecution.

The charge

2. The accused is tried on the following charge that he, between 2.00 pm on the 12th day of December 1993 and 7.03 am on the 14th day of December 1993, at 20 Greenleaf Place, Singapore, together with one Ng Chek Siong and one ‘Kim Beh’, in furtherance of the common intention of them all, did commit murder by causing the death of one Lee Kok Cheong, and he has thereby committed an offence punishable under section 302 read with section 34 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.

Background facts

3. The deceased, Lee Kok Cheong, a 54 years old male Singaporean, was an Associate Professor and the Head of Department of the English Language Proficiency Unit at the National University of Singapore. He was a bachelor and stayed alone at 20 Greenleaf Place. On 11 December 1993, the wife of the deceased’s brother, Lee Kok Fatt, contacted the deceased to arrange to visit him at his house. The deceased told her to visit him in the morning between 10.00 am to 11.00 am on 12 December 1993 as he was expecting friends in the evening. During the visit that morning, Lee Kok Fatt asked the deceased who these two friends were. The deceased replied that it was pointless to tell him as he would not know them.

4. After Lee Kok Fatt left the deceased’s house at about 12.00 pm, the deceased visited another brother of his, Lee Kok Meng, at his flat at about 12.40 pm. The deceased told Lee Kok Meng that he was taking one year sabbatical leave and would be going overseas. He requested his brother to take charge of his house and his car while he was away. The deceased left his brother’s flat at about 3.00 pm. That was the last time he was seen alive.

5. The deceased’s body was discovered 2 days later just after 7.08 am on 14 December 1993. The deceased’s neighbour notified the police that morning after noticing that something was amiss at the deceased’s house. The police discovered the body of the deceased lying face upwards on the floor of his master bedroom on the 2nd storey of the house at 20 Greenleaf Place. His face was covered by a pillow and his lower denture was sticking out of his mouth. His hands were above his head and tied with a white cord at the wrists. His legs were tied together with a black belt at the ankles. A black cord was found still looped round the deceased’s neck with both its ends at the back of the body. There were no knots present on this black cord. Partial decomposition of the body had set in. When the body was removed, a bent knife was found beneath the body.

6. The three bedrooms and the hall of the house, including the glove compartment of car SBK 7069A parked at the car porch, had been ransacked. Things were strewn around the area where the ransacking had taken place. A pair of spectacles with a detached left lens was found lying on the floor of the second front bedroom upstairs. A kitchen chopper was found underneath some papers on the study table in the hall at the 1st storey. A black table lamp with a cut white cord was found in the 1st front room on the 2nd storey. Near the entrance and on the floor of the master bedroom was a radio clock with its black wire cord cut. The black cord of a white telephone on the corner table in the corridor leading to the common toilet on the 2nd story had also been cut.

Scientific Evidence and Pathologist’s Evidence

7. The Department of Scientific Services determined that the cut white cord of the black table lamp matched the white cord used to tie the deceased’s hands, and the cut black wire cord of the radio clock matched the black cord found around the deceased’s neck.

8. Dr Paul Chui examined the deceased’s body at the scene and performed the autopsy. He estimated that the death had occurred about 1 to 2 days prior to his examination on 14 December 93. He found that the cause of death was ‘asphyxia due to strangulation’. Ligature marks were present across the front of the neck but were incomplete circumferentially at the back. The incomplete marks could be due to the presence of clothing between the cord and the neck during the strangulation. Based on his examination of the body and the development of the haemorrhages, Dr Chui estimated that the strangulation would have lasted about a minute or so. It would be sufficient to kill. When starved of oxygen, the brain dies. He did not find any nail marks above or below the ligature marks, which would have positively suggested that the deceased had tried to use his hands to prevent strangulation. But the absence of such marks did not necessarily suggest that he did not try to do so.

9. Based on Dr Chui’s evidence and the photographic evidence of the scene of crime, I find that the deceased was strangulated by a black wire cord found at the deceased’s neck. The strangulation had been sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death and did cause death. I accept that the cause of death was ‘asphyxia due to strangulation’ and not smothering by a pillow.

10. There was also a stab wound at the front left side of the neck but no major neck structures were injured. The stab wound was not fatal as it missed the major blood vessels in the neck. Hence, there would not have been immediate and excessive bleeding because only small vessels were cut. It was consistent with the scene which did not have a lot of blood splatter. According to Dr Chui, a person with such a stab wound would feel pain but he would be able to move around and stand as it would take time for the blood loss to occur and for the person to collapse because of the loss of blood. He would still be conscious for quite a while, perhaps for half an hour, as the wound did not sever any major blood vessels. He would be able to struggle and defend himself. Dr Chui however did not find any typical defensive cut wounds on the hands or fingers of the deceased.

11. Between the two knives recovered from the scene, Dr Chui was of the view that the bent knife with the narrower blade P117 was more likely to be the weapon used in the stabbing than the kitchen chopper with the broader blade P116. However, he testified that he did not see any marking on the spine during the post-mortem that could have caused the knife to bend during the stabbing. I understood Dr Chui to mean that the knife basically had to hit an obstruction, e.g. a bone structure, before it could be bent. As the knife simply could not bend on the way into the soft flesh of the neck, Dr Chui did not think that the knife was bent during the stabbing.

12. On looking at the photograph of the deceased’s shirt at P72 showing the numerous tears on the shirt and the manner in which the shirt appeared crumpled at the neck region at P39, it would appear that the blade of the knife did penetrate several layers of clothing before piercing the deceased’s neck. It seems to me that it was not improbable for the knife to be bent due to the force needed to poke through the several folded layers of clothing.

13. Dr Paul Chui further testified that the deceased was probably in a lying position when the stab wound was inflicted and the body probably remained in that position until it was discovered because of the absence of bloodstains on the body down the neck in the direction of the chest and there was not a lot of blood over the rest of the house. In my view, the tears in the shirt as could be seen in photographs P39 and P72 tended to support the conclusion that the stabbing took place whilst the deceased was lying with his head on the floor.

14. However, photograph P36 appeared to show some drops of blood on top of the yellow rug on the floor of the master bedroom outside the toilet and two large patches of bloodstains on the yellow rug at locations no where near where the deceased’s neck wound was. There was also a large bloodstain on the deceased’s shirt near his left arm pit and some small bloodstains near the left pocket of the shirt. These bloodstains could be seen in photograph P39. The white cord and the left wrist of the deceased also had blood stains. I think it would be difficult to explain how the blood could have found their way to these locations if the deceased was stabbed whilst his head was on the floor and he never moved from that position thereafter. I could not of course discount the possibility of subsequent contamination by the accused or Kim Beh after the stabbing.

15. But it was puzzling how the bent knife, assuming that was the instrument used in the stabbing, got beneath the body of the deceased if indeed the deceased was stabbed whilst he was lying down as shown in photograph P39. Photograph P42 shows the bent knife which was discovered after the body was removed. Photograph P52 shows the indentation of the knife on the deceased’s bare back. It would be unlikely for the accused or Kim Beh to roll the heavy body over its side just to slip the bent knife under the deceased’s back and then roll the body back onto the floor. There would have been no good reason for them to do that.

16. Thus, I did not think that one could readily conclude that the deceased was stabbed whilst he was lying on the floor. There was to my mind a reasonable doubt that he was stabbed while he was lying on the floor in a supine position as shown in photograph P39. He could just as well have been stabbed whilst he was standing or seated upright on the floor.

17. During cross-examination, Dr Chui explained that after the ligature had been applied, there could still be involuntary muscular twitching movements of the body because the brain might be discharging signals down the nerves in the course of dying.

Accused arrested and voluntary statements given

18. The accused was arrested at about 8.50 am on 23...

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5 cases
  • Lee Chez Kee v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 12 May 2008 furtherance of a common intention” [emphasis added] to commit the primary crime (at 161, [46]). 228 Similarly, in PP v Too Yin Sheong [1998] SGHC 286 (“Too Yin Sheong”), the High Court seemingly advanced a theory of objective foreseeability. After rejecting the theory of subjective knowl......
  • Public Prosecutor v Lee Chez Kee
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 15 January 2007
    ...v Krishna Rao a/l Gurumurthi [2000] 1 MLJ 274 (refd) PP v Lim Poh Lye [2005] 4 SLR (R) 582; [2005] 4 SLR 582 (folld) PP v Too Yin Sheong [1998] SGHC 286 (refd) R v Blastland [1986] AC 41 (refd) R v Bryan James Turner (1975) 61 Cr App R 67 (refd) Shaiful Edham bin Adam v PP [1999] 1 SLR (R) ......
  • Lee Chez Kee v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 12 May 2008 furtherance of a common intention” [emphasis added] to commit the primary crime (at 161, [46]). 228 Similarly, in PP v Too Yin Sheong [1998] SGHC 286 (“Too Yin Sheong”), the High Court seemingly advanced a theory of objective foreseeability. After rejecting the theory of subjective knowl......
  • Public Prosecutor v Lee Chez Kee
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 15 January 2007
    ...on that fateful day. Too was convicted of murder and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty (see Public Prosecutor v Too Yin Sheong [1998] SGHC 286; Too Yin Sheong v Public Prosecutor [1999] 1 SLR 682), whilst Ng was convicted and sentenced to a total of eight years’ imprisonment and 10 s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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