Man used samurai sword to poke neighbour on chest over alleged staring incident

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
PHOTO: Getty Images

SINGAPORE — He took a samurai sword from his home to confront a neighbour whom he thought was staring at him.

Ler Hock Chye, 66, ended up poking his 63-year-old neighbour, Ong Kim Hoe, in the chest with the sword, which had a 47cm-long blade.

On Tuesday (22 October), Ler was sentenced to three months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt with a weapon, and one count of being unlawfully armed with an offensive instrument.

The incident occurred on 14 June last year in the wee hours when Ong left his unit in Marsiling for a stroll. Ler was walking home and passed by Ong at a walkway.

Ong then walked to a corner to rest. Ler, who was nearby, thought that Ong was staring at him. He decided to take a samurai sword from his home to scare Ong.

With the sword behind his back, Ler confronted Ong at a bench. Ler claimed that Ong was following him. Ong noticed that Ler’s hands were behind his back but he did not know what Ler was holding.

Ler suddenly swung the samurai sword forward and used the tip to poke Ong once in his chest. He then swung his sword at his neighbour’s upper torso but Ong managed to avoid it.

Ong later called the police over the incident. The police arrested Ler and seized his sword. His actions were captured on CCTV.

The victim was diagnosed with a small puncture wound over his chest with redness and swelling around it. He later recovered after he was given an injection and medication.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Stephanie Koh sought three months’ jail, describing the attack as unprovoked.

Ler showed some degree of premeditation by returning home to retrieve his sword and hid his sword with the aim of surprising the victim, DPP Koh said.

Tang Gee Ni, Ler’s lawyer, said that his client obtained the sword from a well-wisher when he was the secretary of a pugilistic association. Records showed Ler previously ran the now defunct Soon Hong Art Dragon and Lion Dance.

“When the association was disbanded in 1992...the accused was given a pair of swords and he displayed the swords in own home,” said Tang.

Ler was unemployed and came from a poor background, Tang added. He pays a rental of $50 per month for his flat and also suffers from a serious lung disease.

He was feeling stressed just before the incident when he tried to withdraw a $750 quarterly government grant from an ATM machine. “He didn’t manage to withdraw it as the money was not credited, but later that same day he had a medical appointment so he was agitated,” said the lawyer.

Ler was also grieving the passing of a son, who was found dead in March this year. The cause of death was undetermined as the son’s body was decomposed.

The father of four sons realised what he did was wrong, the lawyer added.

In response, DPP Koh said that the offence was not committed at the spur of a moment and that Ler was not diagnosed with a mental illness.

Ler’s samurai sword was forfeited to the police for disposal after the hearing.

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