River Valley High murder: Request by teen suspect's parents for video session rejected

A police car seen entering the River Valley High School campus on 19 July. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
A police car seen entering the River Valley High School campus on 19 July. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A request by the parents of the 16-year-old suspect in the River Valley High School murder case to communicate with him through a brief video session was rejected by the court on Tuesday (10 August).

The request was made by the student's new lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam, who replaced his previous lawyer Peter Fernando.

At the hearing on Tuesday, when the boy appeared via videolink, Sudheesan said that while he is aware that a psychiatric evaluation of the boy is ongoing, his parents have requested for a five-minute video session with their son. They would only check on the boy's well-being and not discuss the case during the session.

Sudheesan made the application, which he described as "rare", while the parents and other family members were in court to attend the hearing.

"In normal cases I won’t ask but this is a young boy and (there) are very concerned parents in the (court) gallery," said Sudheesan, adding that he or the prosecutor could sit in the session to ensure that the parents and suspect do not discuss the case.

The prosecution objected to the request, arguing that while they understand the parents' concern, the case involves a capital charge and investigations are yet to be completed. The prosecution added that they would likely ask for the boy to be further remanded for investigation after his psychiatric assessment is completed.

District Judge Brenda Tan rejected the parents' request, saying it is not time yet for them to speak to him and that they can make such arrangements later when appropriate.

The Secondary 4 student, is accused of causing the death of a 13-year-old Secondary 1 boy at a toilet on Level 4 of Block D of River Valley High School (RVHS) at 6 Boon Lay Avenue, between 11.16am and 11.44am on 19 July.

The Singaporean, who cannot be named as he is under 18 years old and protected under the Children and Young Persons Act, is facing one count of murder.

The accused was previously a patient at the IMH when he was a Secondary 2 student.

The penalty for murder is death. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, offenders below 18 will be sentenced to life imprisonment if found guilty.

DJ Tan also approved the prosecution's request for a two-week extension of the boy's remand in the Complex Medical Centre and Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for completion of psychiatric and forensics assessment.

Apart from the video session request, Sudheesan added that the suspect's parents had further information on the family history that they plan to submit to an IMH psychiatrist. He did not reveal specific details.

The suspect will return to court on 24 August for the case to be mentioned again.

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