An 82-year-old man who stabbed his daughter-in-law to death at their Tampines flat in Singapore in August 2014 was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment on monday.
Char Chin Fah pleaded guilty to one count of culpable homicide for killing Madam Ong Guat Leng, who was married to his eldest son. Char, who lived with his eldest son's family, had a bitter relationship with the son and daughter-in-law, the Singapore High Court heard.
He frequently complained about Madam Ong to his other children, saying that she was disrespectful towards him and often nagged him.
In turn, Char's family complained that it was very difficult to live with him. He behaved in socially inappropriate ways such as placing his dirty socks on the dining table or not closing the toilet door when uirinating.
Char's behaviour often annoyed Madam Ong, who was on medication for an anxiety disorder and as a result of her disorder, she would often nag when she felt agitated.
Char was given a bed in the living room and his living space was separated from the rest of the living room by a curtain. The day before the incident, he had a dispute with the couple, who were unhappy with him for not washing the curtain. Char decided to kill Madam Ong as he felt betrayed by his son who had not spoken up for him.
The next day early morning Char left the house for his daily exercise but he landed up at a nearby coffee shop and penned a "suicide note" saying that "he has something big".
He bought a bottle of beer "to gather more courage" to execute his plan and waited for all the other occupants in the flat to leave for work, leaving her daughter-in-law sleeping alone at home. Once everyone left, he made his way back to the flat, chose the sharpest kitchen knife, went to the master bedroom and attacked Madam Ong.
Char admitted that he grabbed Madam Ong by the hair and repeatedly banged her head against the wall. She tried to escape but he managed to catch up with her. Char stabbed her in the chest four times, with the final stab landing an inch to the left of the centre of her chest.
Then he left the knife in her body and called his daughter and youngest son to tell them what he had done. Soon after this he left for his daughter's house to hand over his personal belongings to her. Not long after, the youngest son, Char Yeng Keang arrived, and persuaded his father to surrender and drove him to a police station.
When the police arrived at the Tampines flat, they found Madam Ong in the flat splattered with blood. An autopsy found four stab wounds in her chest area, fractures on her skull, as well as bruises, abrasions and swellings on her face and body.
In his mitigation plea, his defence lawyer Ramesh Tiwary requested for a sentence of five years' jail, arguing that Char had never committed a prior offence, and had surrendered himself to the police willingly. His physical condition had also deteriorated over the last few years, having undergone two surgeries during remand.
The court was told the man was suffering from personality disorder and acute paranoia.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal argued that Char had planned the attack, deliberately sourced a weapon and selected a timeframe to kill Ong and hence he should be punished with 10 years of imprisonment. "This is not an individual who committed the offence at the spur of the moment. This was an individual who decided a day before that he was going to commit the offence," said Mohamed Faizal.
In sentencing Char, Justice Woo Bih Li said this was a serious offence which would ordinarily attract a long term of imprisonment but he "experienced some hesitation" on account of the accused's advanced age.