Jailed: Man who punched his friend, causing him to hit his head and die

Amir Hussain
·Senior Reporter
Lim Yong Hwee, 39, pleaded guilty to one charge of causing hurt and two counts of theft. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
Lim Yong Hwee, 39, pleaded guilty to one charge of causing hurt and two counts of theft. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — A man’s single punch to his friend’s face in January resulted in the latter falling backwards and hitting his head on the ground, a court heard.

The 56-year-old victim died in hospital from head injuries the next day.

At the State Courts on Thursday (22 August), Lim Yong Hwee, 39, was jailed for one year and 14 weeks after he pleaded guilty to one charge of causing hurt and two counts of theft.

He was also ordered to spend an extra 12 days in prison for breaching the terms of his remission order, which was issued upon a previous early release from jail. Lim had been in prison thrice for theft last year.

Accused punched victim’s cheek once

Lim got to know the victim, Goh Khai Beng, in November last year, when they stayed at the Institute of Mental Health’s National Addiction Management Service.

Lim had been released from prison earlier that month.

On 10 January, Lim gambled at a back lane in Geylang and lost money. He contacted Goh asking to borrow $50, and the latter told him to meet at People’s Park Complex as he wanted to buy a mobile phone.

The duo, who were both unemployed, met there at 5.30pm to look for a phone, before heading to Sim Lim Square at 7pm to continue finding a suitable device.

After about an hour, they decided to walk to Mustafa Centre. Along the way to the shopping centre, they also checked out several phone shops along Race Course Road.

“At about 8.40pm, while the duo was outside Banana Leaf Apollo restaurant at No. 54 Race Course Road, the accused told the deceased that the shops at the said vicinity offered the best price for mobile phones and that if the deceased still found the phones expensive, it would be impossible to buy one elsewhere,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yihong.

“The accused then commented that the deceased wanted the mobile phone to be cheap and good; as if the deceased wanted to drive a Mercedes Benz, but was only willing to pay for the price of a Nissan car,” added the prosecutor.

Angered, Goh shouted at Lim and asked to “settle” the matter at Lorong 14 Geylang. Goh then told Lim to stay put while he took out his mobile phone.

When Lim saw Goh pressing on his phone, he assumed that Goh was trying to call for back-up. Lim then told Goh that they could settle the matter there and then.

As Goh looked up from his phone, Lim punched his left cheek once with his right fist.

Goh appeared “stunned” and did not blink his eyes. Blood then started to flow from his nose and he fell backwards, hitting his head on the concrete ground.

Lim then berated Goh for about a minute as the latter lay on the ground with his eyes wide open, before leaving the scene.

A passer-by called emergency services while a staff of the Banana Leaf Apollo restaurant and another passer-by helped Goh up to a chair.

Policemen arrived five minutes later. As they were talking to Goh, he suddenly tilted to the left and started to slur in his speech. There was also a cut at the back of his head which was bleeding.

Paramedics then took a look at Goh and decided to send him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, but he arrived there unconscious and in a coma.

He was later transferred to the Neuro-Intensive Care Unit, but died the next day. A forensic pathologist certified the cause of his death to be from “head injury”.

Accused stole shoes, phone

A week before the incident, on 3 January, Lim also stole a shoe from Mustafa Centre at about 9.30am.

A security guard saw him putting a pair of old sports shoes into his bag and noticed that he was wearing a brand new pair of shoes worth $21.

Lim was detained as he was about to leave the 24-hour shopping centre and handed over to the police.

On 8 December last year, Lim also stole a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 worth $1,220 from under the nose of a mobile phone shop staff.

At about 6.50pm, he asked a salesperson about a phone. When the staff moved away to serve another customer, Lim stretched his hand and reached for the Samsung phone that was displayed on a shelf.

When the shop staff saw what Lim was doing and shouted at him, Lim ran out. But the staff managed to detain Lim along Seah Street and called the police.

In August 2017, Lim was also jailed for two weeks and fined $500 for theft as well as criminal intimidation and causing hurt. Four months later, he was jailed for six weeks for causing alarm, house trespass, and breaching a personal protection order.

For causing hurt to Goh, Lim could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000. For each of his theft offences which took place in buildings, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.

Offenders who are released early from prison and commit a crime during the remission period can be ordered to serve extra jail time consisting of the remaining duration of the remission period.

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