Man who caused friend to fall to his death loses appeal against jail term

Singapore’s Supreme Court. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

A drug offender who caused the death of his wheelchair-bound friend from height lost his appeal against a nine-month jail term.

Ho Chin Hin, 57, had trapped Khiong Lam Swee, 62, in Ho’s flat for 19 hours, causing Khiong to fall to his death after he attempted to flee through the window.

Ho was jailed on one count of wrongfully constraining Khiong on 25 July after suspecting that his friend had informed the authorities about his drug consumption.

Representing himself in the High Court, Ho said to Judge of Appeal Steven Chong that the sentence was “too harsh”. “When I saw that he had fallen down, I was the one who called the ambulance,” said Ho through a Mandarin interpreter, adding that Khiong was his “good friend”.

Calling the case “tragic”, Judge Chong noted that Ho had said in mitigation that he was under the influence of drugs, which was an aggravating factor. “You knowingly took the drugs knowing that it would cause you to act in a certain manner,” he said.

Even though Ho claimed the victim had also acted under the influence of drugs, Khiong’s last consumption had been 20 hours before his death, said Judge Chong. Hence Ho’s conjecture was “speculative”, he added.

Judge Chong accepted that Ho had sought the assistance of passers-by during the incident and was remorseful but pointed out that these were of little mitigating value. “I cannot agree with you that the sentence is manifestly excessive,” he added in dismissing the appeal.

Ho had earlier pleaded guilty to wrongfully restraining Khiong, his friend of 22 years, after suspecting Khiong of ratting out his drug consumption to the Central Narcotics Bureau, causing him to be arrested on 5 May last year. He is currently serving a jail sentence of five years and three months for his drug-related offences, after which he will serve an extra nine months for the wrongful restraint offence.

After being released on bail pending the drug consumption charges, Ho met Khiong at the Eunos Crescent Market and Food Centre on 17 May. Both consumed heroin together in a toilet.

After suspecting Khiong of providing information that led to his arrest, Ho brought Khiong to his flat at around 12pm that day. He accused Khiong of being an informant, to which Khiong denied. Ho then told Khiong that he would not be allowed to leave until he told “the truth”.

Ho’s younger brother, who returned home at night, pushed Khiong out of his flat in his wheelchair but Ho intervened and pushed his friend back inside. Ho’s brother later said he won’t be involved in his brother’s affairs and rejected Khiong’s plea for help the next morning.

Ho was still sleeping in his room when a loud thud woke him up at about 9.40am on 18 May. When he rushed out, he saw Khiong’s wheelchair near a window. He ran to the ground floor and saw his friend lying on the ground. He then asked passers-by to call for assistance.

Khiong was taken to the hospital where he later died of multiple injuries. Ho was arrested later that day.