SINGAPORE — A 23-year-old National Serviceman who knifed a mother-of-two to death was today (Aug 22) sentenced to life imprisonment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, but spared the cane.
Soh Wee Kian, who fatally stabbed Ms Hoe Hong Lin near a basketball court in Woodlands Drive 50 during a Mid Autumn Festival night in September 2010, was also found guilty earlier this week of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Ms How Poh Ling in May 2010.
Noting that the sentencing options in Soh’s case were “not very many”, Justice Choo Han Teck said a lengthy imprisonment was most appropriate for the sake of the public and for Soh’s own good. His sentence was backdated to Oct 14, 2010 — the day he was arrested.
The prosecution had asked for life imprisonment on both charges as the offences “are grave enough to require a very long sentence”.
The nature of Soh’s offences and his history — two other charges of voluntarily causing hurt to two other women were considered in his sentencing — “demonstrate that he is a person of unstable character likely to commit similar offences in the future”.
Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist Jerome Goh had also highlighted that Soh’s offences were an “escalation” of his behaviour of surreptitiously following women and fantasising about what he wanted to do to them, which he started doing in Primary 5.
The court heard earlier that Soh was attracted to long-haired women who wear short skirts, and fantasised about stabbing them in the back and touching their breasts.
Dr Goh, who examined Soh on five occasions, opined that the accused does not suffer from a psychotic illness, but had an adjustment disorder with depressed mood as a result of stress from National Service “around the time” of the offences.
But the depressive symptoms would not have impaired his ability to make decisions with regard to the offences, according to Dr Goh.
Details of Soh’s family background also emerged yesterday. His father has a history of schizophrenia and his parents divorced between 2000 and 2001 — his mother remarried in 2003.
The defence said Soh wished to express remorse for his actions and submitted that he not be caned.
They cited a previous judgment which held that such a punishment is not imposed in cases where accused persons have been suffering from some mental impairment.
Soh displayed little emotion but was allowed to speak briefly to his mother, stepfather and brother after sentencing.
When approached by reporters, his stepfather, Mr Ng Chee Yong, thanked defence lawyers Thangavelu, Josephus Tan and Keith Lim and apologised to Hoe’s family and to the other victims and their families.
Hoe’s husband, Mr Ng Kak Joo, 42, said he was disappointed that Soh would not be caned and did not accept his apology.
The Malaysian, a permanent resident here, said he did not understand why Soh’s charge was reduced from murder to culpable homicide, and lamented that he had built his life in Singapore for over 20 years until Soh wrecked it. He said he would tell his children, now aged eight and 12, about the verdict.