Wong Kim Poh v Public Prosecutor

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeChan Sek Keong J
Judgment Date06 January 1992
Neutral Citation[1992] SGCA 2
Citation[1992] SGCA 2
Defendant CounselSeng Kwang Boon (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Plaintiff CounselR Palakrishnan (Palakrishnan & Partners)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 14 of 1990
Date06 January 1992
Subject MatterSilence on possible defence not raised in court,Statements contained prejudicial evidence,s 300 Exceptions 2 & 4 Penal Code (Cap 224),Grounds of judgment of trial court,Criminal Law,Statements,Murder,Accused's statements admitted in entirety,Whether there was miscarriage of justice,Implications,Offences,Whether court duty-bound to consider all exceptions even though not raised in defence,Consideration of,Mixed statement,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Evidence,Defences of private defence and sudden fight,Test to be applied,Admissibility,Trials

Cur Adv Vult

On 10 August 1990 the appellant was convicted and sentenced to suffer death on a charge of murder, being an offence punishable under s 302 of the Penal Code (Cap 224) (`the Code`). He appealed against the conviction and sentence.

The facts were that on 26 October 1983 a female prostitute was found murdered in her rented room at a boarding flat in Geylang.
The autopsy which was performed the next morning found nine injuries on her body. Six of these injuries were triangular stab wounds on her chest, and each of them in itself was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. According to the pathologist who performed the autopsy, these six fatal wounds were all directed at the centre of the body where the vital organs were located. There were too many stab wounds on the body, and they were too deep, ranging between 6cm and 9cm, for them to have been caused accidentally.

At the same time that the body of the deceased was found, the occupant of another rented room in the same boarding flat found that her room had been ransacked.
Missing were some $10,000 in money and some $30,000 worth in jewellery, which included one gold-coloured bracelet, one gold-coloured medallion, and another gold-coloured bracelet studded with green and white stones.

No further developments took place for some time.
But about five years later, with the assistance of the Malaysian police, the appellant was traced in Alor Setar, Kedah in Malaysia and was arrested and extradited to Singapore. While in custody, he made a statement under s 122(6) and another five statements under s 121 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) (`CPC`). The appellant did not challenge the admissibility, the voluntariness or the accuracy of any of these statements, and they were admitted by the trial judges under s 122(5) as evidence after having been satisfied as to their admissibility. In his statements, the appellant related how in 1982 he had brought a Malaysian girl into Singapore for the purpose of prostitution and had lived on her earnings. Early in 1983 they had gone back together to Malaysia for the Chinese New Year, and had got married there in March 1983. Soon thereafter they had returned to Singapore, where she resumed working as a prostitute, while he continued to live on her earnings, until later in 1983 when they decided to return to Malaysia. Back in Malaysia, however, he soon ran through her accumulated savings. Again in need of money, he remembered that his wife had lent $500 to the deceased early in 1983, while they were in Singapore; he also remembered that, before leaving Singapore, he had asked the deceased to repay the loan, but she had claimed then that she had no money. He thought that if he only frightened her, she would pay up. Armed with a bearing scraper which he bought in Malaysia, he went back to Singapore to look for her.

When he found her in her room in the boarding flat and asked for repayment of the loan, she again claimed that she was unable to repay the money because she was out of work, and thus had no money.
He threatened her by pointing the bearing scraper at her neck, but she brushed the bearing scraper aside. It fell to the floor, and the appellant claimed that they both fought for it. He managed to get it, and stabbed her a number of times with it. Before he fled the scene, he noticed that the door of the next room was open, so he went in, broke open the drawer of the wardrobe and stole the cash and items of jewellery which have been described earlier. He went back to Malaysia and spent the money, and, when the money was exhausted, he sold or pawned the jewellery.

The relevant part of one of the appellant`s s 121 statements read as follows:

(17) ... I took a taxi and proceeded to Lorong 29 Geylang ... I saw [the deceased] at the hall. She also saw me outside the gate. I called her name and asked her to unlock the gate for me to go in as I have something to talk to her. She obliged and unlocked the iron grille gate with her set of keys. I could not recall where she took her keys from. At the hall, I asked her for the $500. `Sow Cheng` replied that she had no money as she had been out of work.While replying to me, she moved towards her room. She entered her room and I followed in. This was the room which my wife and I previously occupied when we were in Singapore. I chided her for breaking her promise and that I was also in dire need of money. She kept on saying that she had no money and out of work. I then whipped out the bearing scraper which I kept in my sock and threatened her with it. I also pointed the bearing scraper somewhere in her neck region. At that moment, I did not have any intention to harm her. I merely wanted to frighten her to submit hoping that I could collect the $500. `Sow Cheng` on seeing my weapon appeared more aggressive and swipe my right hand away with her left. On impact, the bearing scraper dropped from my right hand and landed on the floor. `Sow Cheng` and I went for the bearing scraper and there was a struggle between us. I managed to grab hold of the bearing scraper and in the process, I saw blood on my right palm. I also felt pain. `Sow Cheng` and I went down on the floor and she was still trying to grab my hand. At that juncture, I lost my head and just kept on stabbing `Sow Cheng` with the bearing scraper. I could not know how many times did I plunge the bearing scraper into her body. I am also unable to say whether or not did she uttered any sound at that moment. After a brief moment, I stopped and I then realized that `Sow Cheng` was motionless and blood on her body. I also saw blood on my hands. At that moment I also did not know whether `Sow Cheng` was dead or alive. I then went to the kitchen area and washed the blood away on my hands.

At the close of the case for the prosecution, it was submitted on behalf of the appellant that there was no case to answer as he did not have an intention to kill the deceased; but the learned trial judges found that the prosecution had made out a case on the charge for the appellant to answer, and therefore called on him to enter on his defence.
The appellant elected to remain silent and declined to call any witness for...

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1 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v Dahalan bin Ladaewa
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • May 12, 1995
    ......Defence counsel objected. Counsel was of the view that there was material in the edited statement that was still irrelevant and highly prejudicial and drew the attention of the court to the comments of Yong Pung How CJ in Wong Kim Poh v PP [1992] 1 SLR 289 that prosecutors should ensure that irrelevant and prejudicial evidence contained in police statements are not admitted in evidence. In the course of the trial-within-a-trial the DPP made further deletions to the long statement whereupon the defence withdrew its ......
3 books & journal articles
  • The Judicial Discretion to Exclude Relevant Evidence: Perspectives from an Indian Evidence Act Jurisdiction
    • United Kingdom
    • International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The No. 16-4, October 2012
    • October 1, 2012
    ...the negative effects of prejudicialevidence, and thus are able to assess all evidence objectively: see Wong Kim Poh v Public Prosecutor[1992] 1 SLR(R) 13 at [14]; Tan Chee Kieng v Public Prosecutor [1994] 2 SLR(R) 577 at [8]; Tan Meng Jee vPublic Prosecutor [1996] SLR(R) 178 at 29 As will b......
  • Case Note
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2018, December 2018
    • December 1, 2018
    ...also Ho Hock Lai, “An Introduction to Similar Fact Evidence” (1998) 19 Sing LR 166 at 195. 37 See, eg, Wong Kim Poh v Public Prosecutor[1992] 1 SLR(R) 13 at [14]; Tan Meng Jee v Public Prosecutor[1996] 2 SLR(R) 178 at [48], citing Tan Chee Kieng v Public Prosecutor[1994] 2 SLR(R) 577. This ......
  • Case Note
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2012, December 2012
    • December 1, 2012
    ...than jurors to deal with prejudicial evidence and hence can assess all evidence objectively: see, for example, Wong Kim Poh v PP[1992] 1 SLR(R) 13 at [14] and Tan Chee Kieng v PP[1994] 2 SLR(R) 577 at [8]. 35Tan Meng Jee v PP[1996] 2 SLR(R) 178 at [48]. 36 Henry Wigmore, Evidence in Trials ......

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