Man jailed 12 months for rash act in father's death, fined for possessing air pistols

Wan Ting Koh
(Photo: Getty Images)

A man who killed his father after placing him in a necklock has been sentenced to 12 months’ jail after being found guilty of causing his death by rash act.

Mark Tan Peng Liat, 31, was also fined the maximum $5,000 for an unrelated charge of possessing 13 air pistols without a license on Thursday (24 August). The weapons were seized from Tan’s West Coast Rise home when police officers were responding to the call over his dispute with his father.

Tan, who was originally charged with culpable homicide, had his charge amended after District Judge (DJ) Eddy Tham found him not guilty of the charge which he had been tried for in July last year.

According to his amended charge sheet, Tan is convicted of causing the death of his father, Tan Kok Keng, then 67, by committing a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide by applying a chokehold on Tan’s neck area.

Tan had testified that earlier on the day of the incident on 10 February 2015, the elder Tan had ordered him home after accusing him of stealing his money.

Upon reaching home, Tan said that he got into an scuffle with his father in the master bedroom after the elder Tan poked him in the chest and threw a punch at him. During the struggle, Tan wrapped his right arm around his father’s neck. He also pressed down on the base of his father’s neck with his left hand.

After noticing that the elder Tan had stopped struggling, Tan released his grip and left the bedroom without checking on his father.

Meanwhile, the family’s domestic helper had gone to the nearby home of Tan’s aunt for help. Tan’s aunt had said on the stand that she had rushed over to her nephew’s house where she found him looking “bewildered and lost” outside.

When Tan returned to check on his father with his aunt a while later, they found him lying face up with the mouth open. An ambulance was called and the elder Tan was later pronounced dead in the hospital.

While delivering the verdict on 8 June, DJ Tham said that it was difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tan knew that his actions were likely to cause his father’s death given the charged situation. He acknowledged that Tan’s intention was “clearly one of restraint” and reduced the charge.

In his judgement during sentencing, DJ Tham said that Tan’s action was defensive and not a vicious or brutal attack.

“I felt that his culpability is mitigated by the fact that he did not have the luxury of time and space to contemplate the seriousness of his action…The accused was in a volatile situation of trying to fend off an enraged father who was much older than him in age but who was said to be very fit and a holder of a black belt in taekwondo,” DJ Tham added.

The prosecution, which sought a four-year jail term on the rash act charge, has filed an appeal against the DJ’s decision to amend the charge from an offence of culpable homicide to rash act and will be appealing against the 12-month jail term.

Tan’s lawyer Lulla Khan told the court that his client intends to appeal against the conviction and sentence and sought a stay in sentence.

Tan, who has been remanded for eight months since February 2015, will have his sentence backdated should the 12-month jail term apply. For committing death by rash act, Tan could have been jailed up to five years and/or fined.