Public Prosecutor v Took Leng How

JudgeLai Kew Chai J
Judgment Date26 August 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] SGHC 154
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 12 of 2005
Date26 August 2005
Published date29 August 2005
Plaintiff CounselLawrence Ang, David Khoo and Shawn Ho (Deputy Public Prosecutors)
Citation[2005] SGHC 154
Defendant CounselSubhas Anandan, Chung Ping Shen, Anand Nalachandran and Sunil Sudheesan (Harry Elias Partnership)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterTrials,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Section 196(2) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed),Whether court entitled to draw adverse inference from accused's election not to testify,Whether accused suffering from schizophrenia amounting to abnormality of mind causing substantial impairment of mind at time of offence,Section 300 Exception 7 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Diminished responsibility,Special exceptions,Accused charged with murder of eight-year-old girl,Criminal Law

26 August 2005

Judgment reserved.

Lai Kew Chai J:

1 The accused, Took Leng How, was charged with the offence of murder under s 300 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed), by causing the death of one Huang Na (“the deceased”), an eight-year-old girl from China.


2 The accused, a 22-year-old Malaysian, was working as a vegetable packer at a shop in Block 7 of the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre (“the Wholesale Centre”). The deceased first came to Singapore together with her mother, Huang Shuying, on 5 May 2003. They stayed in a rented flat in Clementi (“the Clementi flat”). Huang Shuying worked for one Eng Chow Meng (“Kelvin Eng”), who was the sole proprietor of M/s All Seasons Fruits and Vegetables Supplier. Kelvin Eng was also the employer of the accused.

3 Sometime in September 2003, Kelvin Eng sublet a room from Huang Shuying for the accused to stay. Subsequently in February 2004, Huang Shuying and the deceased moved out to Block 8 of the Wholesale Centre to stay with a few other Chinese nationals. Not long after that, the accused also moved out of the Clementi flat and Kelvin Eng rented another room for him to stay at Telok Blangah Heights (“the Telok Blangah flat”).

4 On 27 September 2004, Huang Shuying left for China, leaving the deceased in the care of her housemate Li Xiu Qin (“Li”). On 10 October 2004 at about 1.00pm, the deceased informed Li that she wanted to make a long distance call to her mother in China. The little girl then left the house alone and failed to return. At about 10.02pm, Li reported her disappearance to the police.

Police investigations

5 The police focused their investigations on the Wholesale Centre because that was the place where the deceased lived and played. The accused was subjected to intensive questioning as the police had information that the deceased was last seen with him. On 19 October 2004, the accused told the police that he had met the deceased on 10 October 2004 after she had made a call to her mother. He then volunteered to show the police Block 13 of the Wholesale Centre, the location where he allegedly had advised the deceased to return home before parting company with her. He also said that he had gone over to a storeroom (owned by his employer Kelvin Eng) located at Block 15 after that.

6 On 20 October 2004, the accused told the police for the first time that he had actually seen the deceased being abducted. He said that the missing girl’s mother had grievances with some of the traders at the Wholesale Centre and the motive of the abduction was to teach her a lesson. He further claimed that he was in a position to arrange for the girl to be released, but he needed to collect his two mobile phones because the relevant contact number was stored therein. On the same day, the accused was informed about a polygraph test. He agreed to take the test the next morning.

7 On 21 October 2004 at about 1.15am, the accused together with the police went to his Telok Blangah flat to collect his mobile phone. After that, they left for the Wholesale Centre, where the accused picked up his second mobile phone. He then showed the police the location where he saw the deceased being abducted.

8 Although given a choice to report back to the Criminal Investigation Department (“CID”) in the morning for the polygraph test, the accused chose to follow the police officers because he claimed that he would not be able to wake up on time. On their way back to CID, at the request of the accused, they stopped at a restaurant. While eating, the accused excused himself to go to the toilet. He left via the back door of the restaurant and did not return.

9 The accused thereafter managed to make his way to Malaysia where he hid in Penang for the next few days. On 30 October 2004, the accused surrendered to the Malaysian police. A team of Singapore police officers then brought the accused back to Singapore.

10 The next day, the accused led the police to locate the deceased’s body, which had been stuffed into a cardboard box by the accused and thrown down a slope in Telok Blangah Hill Park.

The accused’s statements and video re-enactment

11 In his statements to the police, the accused said that in the afternoon of the fateful day, the deceased had insisted on going with him to the storeroom at Block 15, despite the fact that he had repeatedly asked her to go home. The accused then unlocked the storeroom and brought the deceased into an office which was inside the storeroom. The two of them decided to play a game of hide-and-seek, with all the lights turned off and with the deceased’s ankles tied together. The accused claimed that they often played games where he would tie up her hands or legs and she would try to untie herself.

12 A short time after leaving the deceased to hide in the office, the accused went back into the office. The accused in his statements described what happened after that:

After a short time I went back into the office. It was still in darkness as the lights were off. I started beating on the table with my hand and calling her name at the same time. While I was beating on the table I suddenly heard a loud thud. I knew that the thud did not come from my beating on the table. It clearly came from within the office. I immediately went to switch on the lights in the office. I saw her lying on the floor. She did not seem alright. Something was amiss. She seemed to have vomited blood because blood was trickling out from the right corner of her mouth. She seemed to be going into a spasm. Her eyes were wide open and there was urine all over the floor. I immediately went over to call her name but she did not reply and she was still having her spasm. I did not know what to do. I wanted to untie her ankles but I did not know how to undo the knots. I sat on the chair in a daze and looked at her…

… To my mind the police would not believe that such a thing happened. There was no grudge between Huang Na and myself and I loved her as a kid …

… When I was seated there my mind went blank. Her body was shaking and on seeing her in that position, I suddenly recalled some scenes that I have seen on television. I recalled that people who were given a chop on the neck with the back of one’s hand would lose consciousness momentarily and then come to again. I immediately tried it out on her by chopping at the back of her neck with the back of my left hand. After the first chop there was no reaction. I tried again the second time with a bit more force – again no reaction. I then tried the third time with more force than the second. This time when I looked at her I saw that she had vomited more blood … I was at a loss. My mind was totally blank. I did not know why but I put both my hands round her neck and pressed it. I pressed it momentarily with my eyes closed. I let go of my hands and looked at her. She looked no different. I put my hands round her neck again and closed my eyes. I pressed her neck harder this time. After sometime, I relaxed my hands. I opened my eyes and looked at her. This time I noticed her face was greyish white although her eyes were still open.

Thereafter, I moved her position so that her head was resting on the opposite side to the original position. I sat down on the floor and watched her again. This time she was hiccupping (“urg”). This went on for very long and it scared me. I stood up and stamped on her neck about three times with my foot. She continued to hiccup and each time she hiccupped I would become very scared because her face would be ashen grey and her eyes would still be open. I took off the jacket that she was wearing and covered her face. I did not dare look at the face. She was wearing only a jacket and no other tops then. I think she was wearing some kind of pants. I could not take it off since her ankles were bound. I really did not know why I was trying to strip off her pants at the time … I put my right hand on her backside and inserted my third finger into an opening. I am not sure whether it was the anus or the vagina. To my mind that must be the anus. I did not know why I inserted my finger into it …

[emphasis added]

13 The accused then locked the storeroom and subsequently rode a motorcycle back to the Telok Blangah flat where he took a bath and watched television. At about 8.30pm, the accused returned to the Wholesale Centre to dispose of the body. He cut the string binding her ankles and removed her clothes. He wrapped her up in many layers of plastic bags, before stuffing her into a carton box which was then sealed with scotch tape. Thereafter, he disposed of the deceased’s clothing at the rubbish dump in Block 16, knowing that there were cameras that could capture the rubbish at Block 15.

14 The accused then used his motorcycle to transport the box containing the deceased’s body to Telok Blangah Hill Park, where he threw the box downhill into a forested area.

15 The accused said that he had deliberately packed the body in many layers of plastic bags because he wanted to prevent the police from recovering only a decomposed body. In addition, he chose a particular spot at Telok Blangah Hill Park (the top of a hill where there was a lamppost with a triangular sign) to dispose of the body because he wanted to be able to remember where it was and to subsequently bring the police to recover it.

16 During the trial, the Prosecution showed a video containing a re-enactment by the accused (recorded by the police in November 2004) of what he had done to the deceased in the storeroom, and how he had subsequently packed her up in the box.

The Prosecution’s witnesses

Traders at the Wholesale Centre

17 Most of these witnesses testified as to the whereabouts and movements of the deceased and the accused on the day of the tragedy. The accused was seen at the Wholesale Centre together with the deceased at about 1.00pm in the afternoon of 10 October 2004, even though it was a Sunday and the accused would have finished work by...

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    ...mind may nevertheless possess the critical faculties to know that what he was doing was wrong: see Public Prosecutor v Took Leng How [2005] 4 SLR(R) 472 at [63]. In any event, what is necessary for the plea of unsoundness of mind to succeed, even for an offence under the MDA, is that the ac......
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2008, December 2008
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    ...inference from the accused”s election not to give evidence when the accused is alleged to be schizophrenic 11.17 In PP v Took Leng How[2005] 4 SLR 472, the accused was charged with murder under s 300 of the Penal Code by causing the death of an eight-year-old girl. In his statements and re-......

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