SINGAPORE – A teenager facing murder charges after killing a schoolmate at River Valley High School in 2021 had his charge reduced on Friday (24 February) to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The Straits Times reported that due to his age at the time of the alleged crime, the 18-year-old boy cannot be identified, as the Children and Young Persons Act protects those under 18.
A video link was used by the accused to return to court from his place of remand on Friday. According to CNA, his head was apparently shaven, and he wore a white shirt and mask.
The accused had used an axe to kill a boy
According to the teenager's charge, he killed a 13-year-old boy inside a toilet at River Valley High School on 19 July 2021.
The accused, then 16, had allegedly slashed the victim's head, neck, and body with an axe measuring 50cm by 22cm between 11.16am and 11.44am.
The charge sheet stated that he did so with the intent of killing the boy, according to CNA.
The victim, who had multiple wounds, was found motionless in a toilet at the school after police received a call for help.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, and the axe was seized as evidence. At the time, preliminary investigations revealed that the accused and victim did not know each other.
Gag order is still in place, and no disclosure of his identity
CNA reported that during the hearing, lawyer Joyce Khoo of Quahe Woo & Palmer mentioned the gag order prohibiting disclosing the accused's identity, photo, or anything that could lead to his identification.
Previous court hearings indicated the teen was a patient at the Institute of Mental Health. In 2019, police responded to an incident in which the teen, who was 14 years old, attempted suicide.
In the aftermath of his suicide attempt, the boy was taken into custody for his safety and referred to the Institute of Mental Health to be assessed before being released.
The case was adjourned to 6 April, according to The Straits Times.
A culpable homicide conviction without murder will result in life imprisonment with caning or up to 20 years in prison with a fine or caning.
As a matter of law, a murder charge carries the death penalty. However, under Section 314 of the Criminal Procedure Code, there cannot be a death sentence against an individual under 18 during the offence. It will instead be life imprisonment for the offender.
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