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River Valley High School death: Sec 4 student charged with murder; to be remanded for psychiatric assessment

SINGAPORE — A 16-year-old Secondary 4 student of River Valley High School was charged on Tuesday (July 20) with murdering a 13-year-old boy, who was a Sec 1 student.

Students of River Valley High School leaving the premises on July 19, 2021.

Students of River Valley High School leaving the premises on July 19, 2021.

Singapore

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  • A Secondary 4 student of River Valley High School was charged with the murder of a 13-year-old male schoolmate
  • The 16-year-old will be remanded for psychiatric assessment and will return to court on Aug 10
  • Peliminary investigations found that the boy was previously a patient at the Institute of Mental Health, a prosecutor said
  • Writing on Facebook, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam addressed questions that had been raised on how the boy got an axe

 

SINGAPORE —  A 16-year-old Secondary 4 student of River Valley High School was charged on Tuesday (July 20) with murdering a 13-year-old boy, who was a Sec 1 student. 

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

While it was not stated how the boy died, the police said on Monday that they had seized an axe as a case exhibit.

Initial investigations suggested that he had bought it online, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in a Facebook post on Tuesday after the boy was charged.

The teenager, who is represented by Mr Peter Keith Fernando of law firm Leo Fernando Advocates & Solicitors, will be remanded for psychiatric assessment and will return to court on Aug 10.

He attended the hearing on Tuesday via a video link from remand. He was emotionless during the proceedings and appeared tired and dishevelled. 

His parents were not present at the hearing.

A police prosecutor said preliminary investigations found that the 16-year-old was previously a patient at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

The police had attended to a case of attempted suicide by the boy in 2019. 

“Following the incident (in 2019), he was taken into custody for his safety and subsequently referred to IMH for assessment. He was then discharged," the prosecutor said.

Under the Children and Young Persons Act, which covers young persons under the age of 18, neither of the boys can be named.  

The police said on Monday that early investigations showed that the two boys did not know each other. 

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

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

In his Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam said that the incident is a tragedy and is "completely shocking".

"There are questions being asked about how the boy got an axe. Preliminary investigations suggest that he purchased it online," he wrote, stressing that the full facts will be known only after investigations are completed.

"We all grieve with the parents of the boy who was killed. It’s difficult to even describe the true extent of their grief." 

On Monday afternoon, the school said on the Parents' Gateway portal of Ministry of Education (MOE) that a “serious incident” involving a Sec 1 student had taken place and that a Sec 4 male student was assisting in police investigations.

The school urged parents not to speculate on the incident or post anything on social media.

Some parents had turned up at the school in the afternoon, following the message on the portal, media reports and messages circulating on WhatsApp about the incident. 

Students were released at about 3.30pm. They were ushered by school staff members and not allowed to speak to the media. 

In a Facebook post on Monday afternoon, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that MOE is working closely with the police on the investigations and that it will keep schools safe.

The police said in a statement at around 5.20pm that they had received a call for help at about 11.40am. 

When the officers arrived at the school, they found the 13-year-old Singaporean boy lying motionless in a toilet. He had multiple wounds and was pronounced dead by a paramedic.

At about 6.30pm, Mr Chan was seen at the school. Speaking to the media, he reiterated the assurances made earlier in his Facebook post and appealed to the public not to speculate on the reasons and respect the affected families’ privacy.

SEEK HELP

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 chat.mentalhealth.sg

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

Related topics

River Valley High School crime court murder death mental health IMH

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