Worried that no one would care for his intellectually disabled daughter if he was not around, the depressed father fatally stabbed her before jumping from the eighth floor of his block in Pasir Ris.
Just weeks before the tragic double deaths of the two Singaporeans, 69-year-old Tang Soh Ha had been fretting about the future of his 27-year-old daughter Tang Hui Yee, for whom he was the main caregiver.
The worries would plague Tang’s mind and he was also unable to sleep at night due to insomnia. He leaves behind his wife, a son and another daughter.
A coroner’s inquiry into the deaths on Friday (7 September) ruled that Tang had “perpetuated the unlawful killing” of his daughter before committing suicide.
On 20 August last year, Tang was found dead at the foot of Block 560, Pasir Ris Street 51 while his daughter was found with multiple stab wounds in the kitchen of the family’s second-storey flat.
Police were called to the scene and Tang was pronounced dead at 1.31pm. The police later used an iPhone found on him to contact his son.
After Tang’s son and wife arrived to identify the body, they led police to the family’s second floor unit. When Tang’s wife unlocked the gate, the group saw Tang Hui Yee lying face down in a pool of blood in the kitchen area outside the toilet with stab wounds to the back of her body. She was pronounced dead at 2.22pm.
A kitchen knife, later linked to the wounds inflicted on Hui Yee, was found at the sink. A bloodied footprint near her body was later found to match Tang’s right foot.
According to the Tang’s wife, Hui Yee had been suffering from autism spectrum disorder since she was around seven years old. She was schooled in the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore.
In 2014, Hui Yee was referred to the Institute for Mental Health (IMH) following repeated toilet-going behaviour. She would also get agitated when her demands were not met and become violent.
She was prescribed with medication but would relapse at intervals. Five days before her death, she was assessed at IMH for a relapse of her behavourial issues, including hitting out at others and playing with water while in the shower for hours.
While her father was her main caregiver, it was not mentioned in court whether the other family members shared the responsibility.
The elder Tang was first seen at IMH in 2008 for acute behavioural changes following a business failure in Thailand. He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was treated with medicine for his condition. He was free of his symptoms afterwards.
According to Tang’s son, his father felt very sick about two weeks before his death. Tang developed suicidal thoughts and would remark that he was a burden to his family.
State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said in her findings, “When he was unable to sleep, Mr Tang would lie awake worrying about Ms Tang’s future. His declining health caused him grave concern about Ms Tang’s care arrangements.”
Tang was referred to IMH on 5 August last year and diagnosed with insomnia and showing signs of depression. He was also prescribed sleeping pills.
However, Tang’s sleeping problems persisted. In a follow-up call with IMH personnel some two weeks after his first visit, he slept for only two to three hours each night with medication. He still had recurring suicidal thoughts, he told IMH. He was then advised to return to IMH.
Around 3am on 20 August, Tang’s son had returned home to see his father reading a bible. Tang left the house at 6am and was later seen playing with his granddaughter.
That afternoon, Tang stabbed his daughter from behind in the neck, chest and head area in the kitchen before jumping to his death. CCTV footage revealed Tang entering the lift on the second floor at 1.30pm and heading to the eight floor, where he committed the act.
In her findings, SC Ponnampalam said that there was no basis to suspect the involvement of a third party. Instead, evidence pointed to Tang “deliberately causing himself to fall from height after having perpetrated the fatal assault on Ms Tang in their home”.
“Regrettably, Mr Tang had seemingly decided that the joint demise of both him and his daughter was the solution to his concerns for his daughter’s welfare,” said the SC.
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