A 23-year-old man who stabbed his brother to death amid a bitter argument in April last year was sentenced to seven years’ jail on Monday (Sep 19).
Their mother rushed to the boys’ bedroom to find 26-year-old Ng Yao Cheng drenched in blood and her younger son, Ng Yao Wei, with a kitchen knife in his hand. The horrified mother tried to stem the bleeding by pressing a towel on her older son's neck, but it was too late.
He had suffered 22 stab wounds, including five on the head, seven on the neck and two which had punctured his lungs, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Bhajanvir Singh said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and his younger brother was arrested and charged with murder.
Ng pleaded guilty on Monday to a reduced charge of culpable homicide, after he was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
The High Court heard that Ng had been bullied for years by his brother. The “physical, mental and emotional abuse” was so bad that he approached the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to seek help, his lawyer Josephus Tan said. That was just five months before the fatal incident on Apr 13, 2015.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came the night before, on Apr 12, when Yao Cheng scolded Yao Wei in front of the latter’s friends, embarrassing him.
The next evening, Ng confronted his older brother in their shared bedroom, and a bitter argument ensued. The former reached for the 33cm kitchen knife he had hidden underneath his pillow and stabbed his brother multiple times, until his mother and domestic helper rushed into the room.
The helper took the knife away, while the boys’ mother tried desperately to stem the bleeding from Yao Cheng’s neck. The assailant then called the police to report the incident at their home located at Windermere Condominium along Choa Chu Kang Street 64.
'REAL VICTIMS ARE THE PARENTS': DEFENCE LAWYER
“This is an unfortunate, tragic case involving the death of one brother in the hands of another,” Judicial Commissioner Audrey Lim said, in sentencing Ng Yao Wei to seven years’ jail. Prosecutors had asked for seven to 10 years.
“We recognise that this is an unfortunate family tragedy caused by the mental illness suffered by the accused. The best way forward is to ensure that … this episode of violence will not be repeated. And that is to ensure that the accused is completely and sufficiently treated before his release into society,” DPP Ma Hanfeng said.
“The real victims are the parents,” defence lawyer Tan said. “They have lost one son, today they are here to see another son get sentenced.” The Ngs were in court with their eldest son, who is 30. “They all want (Ng Yao Wei) to come home”, Mr Tan said, adding that the family is committed to helping him deal with his mental health diagnosis.
Urging the court not to impose a jail term longer than seven years, Mr Tan said Ng had acted “in the heat of the moment”. But he is remorseful, Mr Tan added. After the killing, the convicted man had said: “Now I’m in a clear state of mind … I basically killed a son of my parents … I’m very sad.”
According to an IMH report, the psychiatric condition requires at least two years of treatment with medication, and another one to two years of observation in case of a relapse. However, the report stated Ng’s risk of re-offending is low.
For culpable homicide not amounting to murder, Ng Yao Wei could have been jailed for life and caned, or for up to 20 years and caned, depending on the circumstances in the case.