Sim Eng Teck v Public Prosecutor

JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date01 August 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] SGCA 45
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 5 of 1998
Date01 August 1998
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselMervyn Tan and Kumari Prabha Dube (Kertar & Co)
Citation[1998] SGCA 45
Defendant CounselLee Sing Lit (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Subject MatterBalance of probabilities that intoxication caused appellant to be incapable of forming intention for offence,Intoxication,s 86(2) Penal Code (Cap 224),Appellant's burden of proof,Whether evidence of appellant's intoxicated state at material time,General Defences,Criminal Law,Objective inquiry


(delivering the grounds of judgment of the court)

The charge against the appellant was as follows:

That you, Sim Eng Teck, on or about 23 May 1996, at about 3.06am, at Pacific Plaza, Claymore Hill, Singapore, did commit murder by causing the death of one Benny Probocemdana Oen, male aged 38 years, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 302 of the Penal Code (Cap 224).

2.The appellant was an unemployed 19 year old who purchased Ecstasy pills from the deceased. According to the appellant, their first transaction was three months before the ill-fated day. The appellant also said that the deceased had borrowed $500 from him within the first month of their meeting. He had promised to repay the money a few days later. However, despite the appellant`s demands, the debt remained unpaid. Their last meeting was sometime on or about 15 May 1996. On that occasion, the appellant had quarrelled with the deceased about the loan and had accused the deceased of selling him fake Ecstasy pills.

3.The appellant did not see the deceased again until the night of 22 May 1996. The appellant began the night at Sparks discotheque in Ngee Ann City along Orchard Road where he had several drinks. Around 10pm he headed for Studebaker`s, a discotheque in Pacific Plaza off Scotts Road. At the ground level entrance, he caught sight of the deceased. The deceased and his friend Tio Seng Khun alias Herman Susantio (Susantio) had gone to Studebaker`s to join other friends who, like themselves, were `regulars` there.

4.In view of their recent quarrel, the appellant avoided the deceased. He returned to Sparks and had more to drink. However the more he drank, the angrier he grew with the deceased. He decided to teach the deceased a lesson. At around 1am, the appellant left Sparks and went to Lower Delta Road to collect a knife which he had. Having retrieved the knife, the appellant called Azdre Azad (Azad), also known as `Sua Huan Kia` or `Allan`, on Azad`s handphone to ask Azad where he was. Azad told him he was at Studebaker`s. The appellant told Azad that he was going to Studebaker`s to teach someone a lesson. He told Azad not to get himself involved when he confronted the person at Studebaker`s. The appellant then took a taxi to Pacific Plaza.

5.It was shortly after 3am on the morning of 23 May 1996 when the appellant alighted at the Scotts Road entrance leading to Pacific Plaza. At about the same time Susantio and the deceased took the lift to the ground floor. There they waited for the car jockey to drive the deceased`s car to the waiting area. The appellant, knife in hand, went towards the deceased as the latter was in a conversation on his handphone. Teh Chwee Lee testified that at the material time the deceased had called her on her handphone and had informed her that he was at the ground floor of Studebaker`s and would be going to her home soon. All of a sudden, the line went dead.

6.The deceased was stabbed in the head and neck region, on the back of his right shoulder and sustained an injury across the palm of his left hand when he tried to grab the knife. He suffered three blows from the appellant`s knife in quick succession.

7.Someone shouted `Ar Sio Park` which meant that there was a fight going on. Susantio heard a `piak` sound and turned towards the direction of this sound. He saw the deceased slumped on the floor. The deceased was using his hand to press the back of his head. As Susantio made his way towards the deceased, he saw a man hurriedly walking away from the deceased. When he reached the deceased, he noticed that the deceased was bleeding and that his little finger was almost severed. Susantio`s attention quickly returned to the fleeing figure. He saw the man running up Claymore Hill with a bag tucked under his left arm. Although Susantio only saw the back of the man, he noticed that the man was wearing a white cap and white sports shoes. The deceased then asked Susantio to pull him up. Susantio supported the deceased as they boarded a taxi and headed for the hospital.

8.The deceased arrived at the Singapore General Hospital in a collapsed state with no blood pressure or pulse rate recordable. Blood was oozing from his injuries and attempts to resuscitate the deceased failed. He was pronounced dead at 3.50am on the morning of 23 May 1996.

9.The post-mortem report of Dr Gilbert Lau, consultant forensic pathologist, stated that the deceased had suffered one fatal injury. This was a deep gaping laceration, measuring 13cm x 4cm, obliquely across the back of the left side of the deceased`s head extending down into the upper part of the neck. The blow had slashed the ear first and thereafter gone downwards slicing through the bone behind the ear. The left vertebral artery had been cut. The cause of death was found to be severe acute haemorrhage resulting from a deep incised wound to the back of the head and the adjacent part of the neck. Dr Lau also noted two other injuries. The second serious but less fatal injury was a deep gaping incised wound measuring 10cm in length obliquely across the palm of the left hand. It had nearly amputated the deceased`s left hand. This was found to be a defensive injury in that the deceased had used his left hand to ward off a blow. This in itself would not ordinarily have been fatal. The third injury was a superficial incised wound on the back of the right shoulder.

10.In Dr Lau`s view, the injuries were consistent with their having been inflicted by means of a heavy object with a sharp edge, such as a chopper or a cleaver or a similar object. The fatal injury was inflicted by a downward blow from left to right. This had deeply incised the muscles of the upper part of the back of the neck and had also sliced into and fractured the left ear structure. This injury had also damaged the left vertebral artery, which is a major blood vessel supplying blood to the vital centres of the brain. In Dr Lau`s opinion, this would have caused severe haemorrhage and death would probably have occurred within half an hour. He found it very difficult to conceive of how an injury, a deep slash wound of this nature, of this depth and severity at the back of the head and neck could possibly have been the result of an accident. With regard to the injury to the palm, Dr Lau considered two possibilities. This could have resulted from one blow or in a separate blow. There could thus have been three blows including one causing the superficial incised wound on the back of the deceased`s right shoulder. Assuming no great shift in the position of the deceased and the appellant during the attack, the relative position of the appellant would have been at the back of the deceased towards the left.

11.The appellant was arrested on 11 March 1997 in Johore Bahru. The defence did not challenge the admission of the two statements made by the appellant to the police. The first statement, recorded by the investigating officer in his field book, was made on 17 March 1997. The relevant portions of this statement read:

Q: Tell me more about the incident?

A: I had kept a knife at Lower Delta Once I went to Spark Disco and I drank liquor at that place. Around 10pm, I went to Studebaker and saw Benny. Previously, I had known Benny. I had previously quarreled with him as he did not pay me the money which he owed me. I avoid him as I did not want to run into him. As such, I went back to Spark. At Spark I drank liquor. The more I drank the angrier I became. I thought of giving him a lesson. I went back to Lower Delta and collected the knife. I called `Sua Huan Kia` and told him that I wanted to teach someone a lesson. I asked him not to get himself involved when I teach the person the lesson at Studebaker. I waited for Benny. When Benny came out I used the knife to chop him. He fell and I ran away

12.The appellant second statement was made on 14 April 1997 and recorded in Singapore under s 122(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68). The relevant portions of this statement read:

The deceased used to supply Ecstasy pills to me. He borrowed $500 from me two or three weeks before the incident. I had approached him several time for the return of the money but he kept delaying. He also sold me `fake` Ecstasy pills. That night, I saw him at the ground floor of Studebaker disco. I was angry with him. I avoided him and went to Spark disco. At Spark disco, when I drank liquor, I became more and more angry with the deceased. I decided to teach him a lesson. I then went to Lower Delta to collect a knife which I had previously thrown at the railway line. I then telephoned `Sua Huan Kia` and asked him for his whereabouts. `Sua Huan Kia` said he was in Studebaker. I told him that I was going to teach a person a lesson and asked him not to interfere. I then went to Studebaker. When I arrived at the ground floor of Studebaker, I saw the deceased. He was using his handphone. When I wanted to slash him at his hand to teach him a lesson, he saw me. He turned around to run. When he turned around to run, I slashed him at his back. I slashed him at his head region. He turned and used his hand to grab my knife. His hand was cut in that process. I then ran away. I took a taxi and left the place. I did not intend to kill him. I just wanted to teach him a lesson. There was no reason for me to want to kill him in front of so many people. I regretted killing him.

13.The appellant admitted being the assailant of the deceased on the date and time in question. He also explained how and why he attacked the deceased with a knife he had brought to the scene. At the trial, the appellant sought to defend his motive by saying that he wanted to teach the deceased a lesson by slashing the deceased`s hand. His evidence was that the deceased had seen him...

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2 cases
  • S Nagarajan s/o Kuppusamy v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 1 February 1999
    ...of forming any intention for the offence: Suradet v PP [1993] 3 SLR 265 , Indra Wijaya Ibrahim v PP [1995] 2 SLR 442 , Sim Eng Teck v PP [1998] 3 SLR 618 . The essence of the appellant`s ground of appeal was that the trial judge was wrong in concluding that the appellant had not proved on a......
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    ...the accused had been interrogated, handcuffed, deprived of his belongings, and starved. In Chia Chien Wei Kelvin v Public Prosecutor [1998] 3 SLR (R) 64, Yong Pung How, CJ delivering the judgment of the court defined oppression (at [56]-[57]) as follows:- 56 Oppression is a circumstance whi......
1 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2005, December 2005
    • 1 December 2005
    ...did not appeal against the High Court’s judgment. The Ow Ah Cheng approach was applied by the Court of Appeal in Sim Eng Teck v PP[1998] 3 SLR 618. 18 Supra n 6. 19 Interestingly, the Ow Ah Cheng decision was rendered only 14 days after the Court of Appeal’s decision in Tan Joo Cheng. The t......

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