Orchard Towers death: 4 years 9 months' jail for last man facing non-capital charge

Wan Ting Koh
·Senior Reporter
·4-min read
Eight people were arrested for the murder of a 31-year-old man at Orchard Towers on 2 July, 2019. (Screencaps of CCTV footage, social media)
Eight people were arrested for the murder of a 31-year-old man at Orchard Towers on 2 July, 2019. (Screencaps of CCTV footage, social media)

SINGAPORE - The last man facing a non-capital charge in the fatal 2019 Orchard Towers brawl was jailed four years and nine months and given 12 strokes of the cane on Friday (5 March).

Apart from pleading guilty to a charge of consorting with a person armed with a weapon, Tan Hong Sheng, 23, had also admitted to charges of rioting and rioting with a deadly weapon in earlier incidents, which occurred on 18 November 2018 and 27 April 2019. Both charges involve him getting into fights at clubs after drinking.

Another five charges, two of which involve causing hurt to others after he was released on bail for the Orchard Towers incident, were taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Tan, 23, was one of the seven who were initially charged with murder with common intention of 31-year-old Satheesh Noel Gobidass at the entrance of Orchard Towers on 2 July 2019.

About a week later, his charge was downgraded to consorting with co-accused Tan Sen Yang, who was carrying a Karambit knife in a public place.

Only Tan Seng Yang still faces a murder charge. Besides Tan Hong Sheng, five others – Joel Tan Yun Sheng, Ang Da Yuan, Natalie Siow, Chan Jia Xing, and Loo Boon Chong – have been dealt with. All were given jail terms except Chan, who was given a conditional warning.

In a previous hearing, the prosecution sought 60 months’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane for Tan Hong Sheng, while his lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law, sought 45 to 50 months’ jail, along with nine to 12 strokes of the cane.

The defence lawyers cited closed-circuit television footage and stated that Tan was calm and had “demonstrated both restraint and composure during the entire Naughty Girl Club incident” unlike Sen Yang, Ang and Siow, whom had participated in the brawl.

However the prosecution pointed out that Tan had a criminal record involving the same nature of offences for which he was convicted for in 2011, 2014 and 2016. He was given probation and reformative training sentences for those offences.

Background of Orchard Towers brawl and death

On the wee hours of 2 July 2019, Tan Hong Sheng went to several clubs to drink before ending up at Naughty Girl Club at the second floor of Orchard Towers. He was in the same group as Tan Sen Yang, whom he had known for only a month through a mutual friend.

In past drinking sessions, Tan had seen Sen Yang behaving aggressively while wielding a karambit knife. He had told his mutual friend that he did not want to meet when Sen Yang was present. However, he still went ahead with the outing on 2 July despite his friend inviting Sen Yang.

At about 6.20 am, as the group left the club, a dispute arose between them and another group of patrons at the club entrance. Tan saw that Tan Sen Yang was armed with the Karambit knife. In the resulting fray, two were injured by Tan Sen Yang, a security officer and a patron.

Tan did not attack anyone and had pulled Tan Sen Yang away from the other group to take the lift to the ground floor.

As Tan's group headed to the building entrance, Satheesh, who had also been present at the Naughty Girl Club during the dispute, confronted one member of the group. Others retaliated by attacking him. One of them was Tan Sen Yang, who punched Satheesh with the knife in his right hand and inflicted multiple injuries to his head and neck.

Tan did not join the attack and eventually pulled Sen Yang away to stop the fight. As Tan left, he saw Satheesh collapse at the entrance of Orchard Towers.

He took a cab with a few others, including Sen Yang, to Boon Lay Market and Food Centre, and later discussed the altercation there with the others.

During the exchange, Sen Yang told them not to worry as he would take responsibility. He then left with a friend while Tan remained at Boon Lay Market.

Separately, on 18 November 2018, Tan was at Club V5 at Ming Arcade with other friends when he attacked a man who had bumped into his shoulder and later stared at him. The group had assaulted the victim with a glass Martell bottle.

On 27 April 2019, at Club District 9 at Orchard Hotel, he joined his friends in assaulting another man. One of Tan’s friends had wanted to teach the victim a lesson for stealing his ex-girlfriend.

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