SINGAPORE — A 31-year-old cook who was briefly in a relationship with a 'flower joint' hostess and unhappy that she had lied to him about things including her age repeatedly stabbed her with a knife in public intending to kill her, a court heard.
The assault on the 38-year-old victim outside Muthu's Curry along Race Course Road in July 2019 was so forceful that the ceramic blade broke into two, and fragments of the weapon were found in the victim's wounds.
The assailant also bit off part of the victim's left ear lobe and spat out the torn flesh. She survived the ordeal.
At the High Court on Tuesday (23 February), the culprit Chen Jianhui, now 32, was jailed for five-and-a-half years.
He pleaded guilty to one charge each of attempted culpable homicide, criminal trespass and criminal intimidation.
Culprit was in relationship with victim
Chen and the victim, both Chinese nationals, lived in different sections at the same hostel. They befriended each other via WeChat around February 2019. He would buy her gifts and help her out financially, the court heard.
"The accused and victim were not physically intimate, although they regarded each other as boyfriend and girlfriend," said Deputy Public Prosecutors Dora Tay and Andrew Low.
Around early July, their relationship went downhill as Chen suspected that she was not telling him the truth. "The accused was suspicious that the victim was working as more than a host in a ‘flower joint’ as she claimed to be. He even went so far as to tail her as she refused to tell him the exact location of her workplace," the prosecutors said.
On 7 July, Chen searched through the victim's belongings in her room when she was out and found her personal particulars. "He was shocked to find out that the victim had lied about her age when she was seven years older than him," said DPPs Tay and Low.
Among other things, Chen made off with her mobile phone and two red packets containing $400 cash each.
Culprit threatened to kill victim
Later, he went to Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre as he wanted to make a report against the victim for cheating him, but he eventually left without doing so as he felt that it would not help get his money back.
Chen then contacted the victim over WeChat and confronted her for having cheated his money and lying to him. "He tabulated all his past expenditure on her and demanded that she pay him back a certain sum of money. He also used vulgarities towards her during their conversation," said the prosecutors.
Among other things, Chen told the victim over WeChat, "I tell you, at most, we’ll die together, I’ll make you die, I tell you." He also said, "if you cannot repay in full, I see you, we’ll die together, I tell you".
Over the next few days, the culprit continued to confront the victim in person and over the phone, asking her to pay him back his money.
Around 9 July, the victim realised that her items were missing and suspected Chen of stealing them. She told him that she would report him to the police. He was upset and worried about being sent back to China as he still had debts to settle back home, the court heard.
Victim made police report
Chen went to a supermarket at City Square Mall after work on 9 July to buy a ceramic knife with a 10cm blade to stab the victim if she insisted on reporting him for theft to the police.
Later that night, the duo quarrelled again at the hostel. The landlord evicted the victim, who then went to stay with a friend. She also paid Chen back some money and he returned her mobile phone.
The next day, Chen continued to call the victim multiple times to chase her for payment but she didn't respond.
On 11 July, the day of the incident, Chen told the victim that he would look for her at her workplace at night as she had been ignoring him. He also contacted her relatives in China to complain about the victim.
The victim then made a police report against Chen that day for theft and harassment. Later, a policeman called Chen and asked him to meet up for the purpose of investigation.
Chen continued with his work. Afterwards, he went back to retrieve the knife from his hostel, placed it in the pocket of his trousers and walked to the victim's workplace along Race Course Road.
"His intention was to cause death to the victim with the knife, if the victim refused to withdraw her police report and return his money," said the prosecutors.
"He felt that he was prepared to kill her and then die himself when he is punished by the law subsequently. He felt that he was willing to bear the consequences of killing the victim," they added.
Culprit stabbed victim in public
Chen saw the victim and her friend at a mobile phone shop along Race Course Road. He confronted her about making the police report and she told him not to go to her workplace and not to contact her relatives.
As the victim and her friend walked away, Chen followed behind. Sometime between 8.26pm and 8.48pm, the culprit pulled the victim towards him and stabbed her with his knife. He then hugged her close to him and stabbed her neck and back in downward motions. He also bit off part of her left ear lobe and spat out the severed flesh. The assault was so violent that the blade broke into two.
"The accused saw the victim bleeding and felt that he was too impulsive. He threw his knife into the nearby bushes. He also dialled 999 and passed his phone to a passer-by to speak to the police," said the prosecutors.
The police received six calls from members of the public to their hotline. Policemen and paramedics arrived shortly after to find the victim lying in a pool of blood. A broken piece of the knife blade was found on her chest.
Chen gave himself up at the scene. He pointed to the bushes where he had thrown the other broken piece of the knife. Policemen also found the victim's torn ear which had an earring attached to it.
The victim was sent to hospital where her wounds were cleaned and stitched up, and her torn ear was reattached. Fragments of the assault weapon were found within a wound on the her right upper back. She was warded for seven days and discharged with 14 days of hospitalisation leave. Most of her left ear lobe could not be saved, resulting in cosmetic disfigurement.
A government psychiatrist found that Chen had adjustment disorder around the time of the offence as he thought that he would lose his job. The disorder was found to have contributed substantially to impairing his judgement as well as mental responsibility for his acts.
For attempted culpable homicide, he could have been jailed up to 15 years along with a fine and caning.
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