SINGAPORE — A rag-and-bone man who murdered a coffee shop worker in Geylang after asking him for drugs was on Monday (2 March) sentenced to life imprisonment.
Toh Sia Guan, 67, had been convicted last month of killing 52-year-old Goh Eng Thiam in July 2016.
After a scuffle, Toh went to a budget shop where he bought a knife, which he used to severe one of Goh’s arteries in his right upper arm. Goh died at the scene.
Justice Aedit Abdullah found that Toh had intentionally caused the fatal injury.
The prosecution did not seek the capital punishment.
‘Chief of the beggars’
On the morning of 9 July 2016, at about 7.40am, Toh went up to Goh, who was having breakfast at Victoria coffee shop along Lorong 23 Geylang, asking for sex-enhancing drugs.
In the Geylang vicinity, Toh was known as “Hong Qigong”, or the “chief of the beggars” from Chinese folklore. He also identified with the term as he perceived himself to be like a beggar, picking up cans and cardboard for a living.
Even though Goh was on the phone, Toh heckled him for sex-enhancing drugs. Goh replied, “I am not a drug peddler! You don’t find me! Don’t keep asking me!” The emphatic line was heard by Goh’s flatmate, whom he was speaking with over the phone.
Goh then shouted a Hokkien vulgarity and a fight erupted between the two men. Goh grabbed Toh’s bicycle and carried it towards the back of a lorry parked along Lorong 23 Geylang. He then swung the bicycle in the direction of Toh and the bicycle fell onto the ground.
Toh then took a wooden stick from the lorry and began hitting Goh. After a scuffle, Toh fled and sought shelter at Highpoint Halfway House. He said Goh stood outside the compound and taunted him.
Toh later left Highpoint through the back door and went to Budget Value Shop along Lorong 25 Geylang. He bought a pair of yellow slippers and a knife before returning to Lorong 23 Geylang.
Meanwhile, Goh had cleaned himself up at the back alley of Lorong 23 Geylang. A CCTV camera partially captured his injuries at the back of his head and his inner right forearm. He appeared unable to lift his left arm. He returned to the coffeeshop and called his flatmate again.
Toh went back to the coffeeshop at about 7.55am and charged at Goh with the knife. The second fight, lasting one minute and 49 seconds, ended with Goh being stabbed in his upper arm, scalp and chest. Toh then fled the scene.
Goh didn’t give chase but lay down on the road. By the time an ambulance arrived at about 8.10am, he had bled to death.
As Toh fled, he took off his bloodied shirt and put on a red shirt which he had filched off a clothesline in the area. He then bought another pair of slippers and ate breakfast nearby. He was arrested 12 days later.
At trial, Toh said he asked Goh if he sold Chinese herbs as he believed the latter had been staring at him “fiercely”. Goh responded with vulgarities and also threw the first punch, he said.
Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore
Other Singapore stories: