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River Valley High School death: 16-year-old murder suspect remanded 2 more weeks for psychiatric evaluation

SINGAPORE — A Secondary 4 student of River Valley High School returned to court on Tuesday (Aug 10), three weeks after being charged with the murder of a Sec 1 student on campus.

Bouquets of flowers left at the main gate of River Valley High School on July 25, 2021.

Bouquets of flowers left at the main gate of River Valley High School on July 25, 2021.

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  • A student facing a murder charge appeared in court via a video-link 
  • A judge rejected his new lawyers’ request for his parents to speak to him
  • The boy remains in remand for two weeks and will return to court on Aug 24

SINGAPORE — A Secondary 4 student of River Valley High School returned to court on Tuesday (Aug 10), three weeks after being charged with the murder of a Sec 1 student on campus. 

The suspect, 16, who is in remand, appeared in court through a video-link, looking visibly tired with his head freshly shaved.

His lawyer applied for him to have a brief video session with family members so that they could check on his well-being, but District Judge Brenda Tan denied this.

She then granted the prosecution’s request for him to be remanded in Changi Prison’s Complex Medical Centre for another two weeks for psychiatric evaluation.

The suspect will return to court on Aug 24.

Neither the accused nor his alleged victim can be named, as the law forbids the publication of identities of young persons under 18 who are involved in court proceedings.


The accused was first charged on July 20, the day after the alleged murder, and was remanded for psychiatric assessment. No details were given in open court about this assessment.

He is now represented by Mr Sunil Sudheesan and Ms Diana Ngiam of law firm Quahe Woo & Palmer, after his previous lawyer Peter Keith Fernando was discharged.

Mr Sudheesan said that he wanted to make a “rare application” for the suspect’s parents and family members, who were in court, to have a “brief five-minute video session with their son”.

They had not turned up in court when he was first charged.

Mr Sudheesan added: “They will not discuss the case and it’s for the parents to check on his well-being.”

A police prosecutor objected to this as the boy faces a capital charge and investigations are still ongoing.

He added: “After the psychiatric assessment, we will probably ask for further remand for investigations. When investigations are completed, counsel can liaise with the investigation officer for his parents to visit him.”

Mr Sudheesan asked if the prosecutor could sit in as well.

“In normal cases, I would not make the application but this is a young boy and they are very concerned parents in the gallery. I can be present as well,” the lawyer said, adding that the parents had more information on the boy's family history for the psychiatrist.

However, District Judge Tan said that this was not an appropriate time for them to talk to their son.

In an update on Friday, the Attorney-General's Chambers said that the police arranged for a video call between the boy and his parents earlier that morning. 

Murder, punishable under Section 302(1) of the Penal Code, typically carries the death penalty in Singapore.

However, under the Criminal Procedure Code, convicted offenders below 18 will be sentenced to life imprisonment instead.


Court documents stated that the alleged murder took place on July 19 between 11.16am and 11.45am at a toilet on the fourth level of the school.

No details were given on how the boy died but the police said that they had seized an axe.

Initial investigations suggested that the suspect had bought the axe online and that the two students did not know each other.

In the week following the incident, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing gave an account of what happened that day, saying that a group of students saw the suspect outside a toilet towards the end of lunch break at about 11.35am. 

He was holding an axe and asked them to call the police.

The students returned to their classroom and told their teacher about this immediately.

The 16-year-old later made the same request to another group of students in the classroom next to the toilet.

A teacher who arrived at the scene instructed him to put down the axe. He complied and was escorted to a meeting room, after which other teachers called the police and checked the toilet.

The younger boy was found motionless with “many wounds” and was pronounced dead there, Mr Chan said.

The court previously heard that the suspect is a former patient at IMH, and that the police had attended to a case of attempted suicide by him in 2019.


The following are resources if you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health-related issues.

Samaritans of Singapore (24-hour hotline): 1800-221-4444

Community Health Assessment Team: 6493 6500/01 or click on the webchat icon at

Singapore Association for Mental Health helpline: 1800-283-7019

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