Too Yin Sheong v Public Prosecutor

JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date07 December 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] SGCA 74
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 14 of 1998
Date07 December 1998
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselR Tiwary and Philip Lam (Leo Fernando)
Citation[1998] SGCA 74
Defendant CounselLee Seng Lit (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Subject MatterElements of s 34,Whether actual participation in murder by appellant present,Complicity,Common intention,ss 34 and 302 Penal Code (Cap 224),Whether murder in furtherance of common intention to rob,Appellant's confederate kills victim during robbery,Whether common intention to rob present,Appellant and two others planning robbery,Criminal Law


(delivering the grounds of judgment of the court): The appellant was convicted in the High Court on 28 August 1998 by Chan Seng Onn JC on the following charge and sentenced to death:

That you, Too Yin Sheong, between 2pm on 12 December 1993 and 7:03am on 14 December 1993, at 20 Greenleaf Place, Singapore, together with one Ng Chek Siong and one `Kim Beh`, in furtherance of the common intention of you all, did commit murder by causing the death of one Lee Kok Cheong, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 302 read with s 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 224).

2.The appellant appealed against his conviction. His accomplice Ng Chek Siong had earlier pleaded guilty to a reduced charge for robbery with common intention, under s 392 read with s 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 224), and `Kim Beh` remains at large. We heard the appellant`s appeal on 9 November and dismissed it.

3. The facts

The deceased was one Lee Kok Cheong, a 54 year old male Singaporean. He was the Associate Professor and the Head of Department of the English Language Proficiency unit at the National University of Singapore. He was a bachelor and lived alone at 20 Greenleaf Place.

4.On 11 December 1993, the wife of the deceased`s brother, Lee Kok Fatt, contacted the deceased to arrange for a visit to his house. The deceased asked them to visit him between 10am to 11am the following day as he was expecting friends in the evening of 12 December. At 12.40am on 12 December, the deceased visited his elder brother Lee Kok Meng, and stayed at the latter`s residence till about 3pm. That was the last time the deceased was seen alive.

5.Around 7am on 14 December 1993, the deceased`s neighbour noticed that something was amiss and contacted the police. At 7.08am, the police arrived at 20 Greenleaf Place and found the deceased`s body in the master bedroom. The deceased was lying supine with a pillow over his face, his body cold to touch and swollen. When the pillow was lifted, a set of dentures protruded from his mouth and a black cord was found looped around the deceased`s neck. His legs were tied together with a black belt around his ankles and his hands were above his head and his wrists were tied with a white cord. A bent knife was found under the body. The three bedrooms in the double storey semi-detached house and the hall had been ransacked, including the glove compartment of the deceased`s car parked in the porch.

6.Dr Paul Chui, a forensic pathologist with the Institute of Science and Forensic Medicine, performed the autopsy and estimated that death had occurred one or two days prior to the examination on 14 December 1993. Death was said to be caused by asphyxia due to strangulation. Ligature marks were present across the front of the neck, caused by the black cord which was incomplete circumferentially at the back. Dr Chui gave evidence that it was possible to strangle a person yet leave incomplete marks, for clothing, such as the collar of the deceased`s shirt, would have masked the rest of the marks. He estimated that strangulation would have lasted a minute or so, and that was sufficient to kill. There was also a 3cm long stab wound on the left side of the neck, but this wound was found not to have caused serious blood vessel injury nor did it damage the throat structures. In Dr Chui`s words, `essentially, it missed everything`. It was likely that the weapon used in the stabbing was the bent knife. There was also a transverse bruise across the right side of the face, but this was a mere `surface` injury. Dr Chui was unable to ascertain the role of the pillow and on being pressed in cross-examination by Mr Tiwari, counsel for the appellant, Dr Chiu proffered the following opinion:

But what I do know from the scene is that the pillow was found on the deceased. For it to be there, the ligature had to be applied or the stab wound had to be applied some time prior to the last position of the pillow which is on the deceased. If the ligature had been applied, that would have caused death in any case or would have resulted in loss of consciousness or a situation whereby deceased was almost brain dead or in the process of dying.

So that`s as far as I can say, that - I mean I cannot tell whether the pillow was applied first, then strangled, then stabbed, and then put the pillow again, but as far as I can tell, it`s at the end there was a pillow on top. I cannot be sure whether the pillow - as I mentioned again, I cannot be sure whether the pillow was used or not. The fact that the pillow was on top of the deceased could mean that somebody just put the pillow on top. And if it came into contact with the body, the stains or whatever fluid would go across and you will find it there.

7.The appellant was arrested on 23 December 1997, at about 8.50am at the Woodlands Checkpoint when he entered Singapore from Johor. At about 2.05pm, during an interview conducted by D/SSgt Low Meng Tee and D/SSgt Saw Chong Teck, the appellant admitted that he and two other male Malaysian Chinese, known to him as `Kim Beh` and `Koo Nerng`, had gone to the deceased`s house with the intention to rob the deceased, and that in the course of the robbery, they tied up the deceased and caused hurt to him. The trial judge admitted three written statements made by the appellant on 23 December 1997, 31 December 1997 and 23 January 1998, and one oral statement made on 24 January 1998. The appellant`s counsel declined to challenge the admission of those statements.

8.In the appellant`s s 121 statement recorded on 23 January 1998, he described how he came to know the deceased. About two or three months prior to the incident, the appellant had often seen the deceased at a coffee shop at Blk 25, Dover Crescent. On one occasion, the deceased approached the appellant and introduced himself, eager to befriend him. The deceased invited the appellant to visit him at his residence, and gave him his address and telephone number. After that first introduction, the appellant subsequently saw the deceased several times, in the same vicinity. At each meeting, the deceased would invite the appellant to his house. About three weeks later, the appellant called the deceased. Again, he was invited to visit the deceased, and this time, the appellant agreed. On arriving at the deceased`s home, the appellant chatted with him in the living room and the deceased showed him around the house and talked about his display of souvenirs. Later, the deceased sat very close to the appellant and started touching the latter`s body and thighs. The appellant felt uneasy and then realised that the deceased was homosexual. The appellant left shortly after.

9.About two to three weeks after that, the appellant met up with Kim Beh and Koo Nerng at a coffee shop in Joo Chiat. The appellant told them of his visit to the deceased`s house, and also the fact that the deceased was homosexual. He also mentioned that the deceased had a lot of souvenirs in his house and appeared to be very rich. A month later, at about 3 or 4pm on 12 December 1993, the three of them met up again at the same coffee shop in Joo Chiat. This time, Kim Beh suggested that they go to the deceased`s house to look around and see if it was suitable for a hold-up. All three agreed to rob him then if it was possible, and Kim Beh and the appellant further agreed that they would then find knives or such objects to threaten and frighten the deceased. They were unsure exactly what the deceased might have in his house. Koo Nerng did not want to enter the house and said he would wait outside in his car and help carry the loot if that was necessary. Kim Beh then asked the appellant to call the deceased on the pretext of wanting to introduce a friend to him. The appellant proceeded to call the deceased from a public telephone, with Kim Beh and Koo Nerng beside him. The deceased was agreeable to their visit, so the three of them went to his house directly in Koo Nerng`s car.

10.The appellant and Kim Beh alighted near the deceased`s house around 4 to 5pm. The deceased greeted them at the gate. The appellant introduced Kim Beh to him and they entered the house. The deceased plied them with drinks as they sat and chatted in the hall. Kim Beh then stood up and feigned an interest in the furnishings. The deceased obliged and showed them around as well as explained where he had obtained the souvenirs. When the deceased had walked away from them, Kim Beh told the appellant to get a knife from the kitchen. The deceased re-entered the hall and sat down with the appellant. Meanwhile, Kim Beh had proceeded into the kitchen. Shortly after, he re-joined them in the hall and winked at the appellant. When the deceased began chatting with Kim Beh, the appellant slipped into the kitchen and found himself a knife. He tucked it at the left side of his waist and returned to the hall. Thereafter, the appellant was unsure what to do. Kim Beh beckoned him with his head. He then became impatient and brandished his knife. The appellant did likewise, and they demanded money from the deceased and asked him where they could get it. The deceased replied that it was upstairs.

11.They took the deceased to the second storey, and were led into his room. Here, they tied him up. They then searched his room. They found cash, credit cards and bank withdrawal cards in his wallet. A Post Office Savings Bank (`POSB`) card with the code written on a slip of paper was amongst the items. They then took a solid gold chain and some bangles. They asked the deceased if there were other valuables, but the deceased replied that there was nothing else.

12.Just before they left, Kim Beh stabbed the deceased with the knife he was still holding. The knife did not penetrate well so Kim Beh got hold of a black cord and strangled him. The deceased began frothing at the mouth and some blood-like fluid flowed from the corner of his mouth. Kim Beh then let go. The appellant...

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