Teen slashed stranger at Boon Lay supermarket over refusal to buy cigarettes

(Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
(Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — Furious at a man who repeatedly refused to buy cigarettes for him, a 19-year-old youth lunged at him with a knife and slashed at his face viciously in an NTUC FairPrice outlet at Boon Lay Shopping Centre.

Photos of the aftermath of the violent assault made rounds online in October last year, showing the 23-year-old victim covered in blood and attended by paramedics. The FairPrice outlet was also cordoned off following the incident.

The youth responsible for the attack, James Teck Jing You, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years' jail on Tuesday (27 April). The teenager was also sentenced to eight strokes of the cane.

The unemployed youth pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt with a weapon and possessing an illegal weapon with him.

The court heard that at around noon on 7 October last year, Teck left home for Boon Lay Shopping Centre. He kept a knife with a 10cm-long blade tucked between his Bermuda shorts and underwear. He had bought the knife in February last year and kept it with him as a means of self-defence.

While at the mall, Teck was walking down a flight of stairs when he encountered the victim walking in the opposite direction towards NTUC. Teck followed the victim and approached him as he was queuing to enter NTUC, which was on the second level of the mall.

Teck asked the victim for his age and if he could buy cigarettes for him several times. The victim refused each time. This angered Teck, who felt that the victim was being rude towards him. He decided to hurt the victim with his knife.

Upon reaching the front of the queue, the victim asked a contract tracer stationed at the temperature scanning station if she could ask Teck to stop following him. The victim then used his mobile phone to scan the QR code to enter NTUC.

While the victim was occupied, Teck took out his knife and lunged at him, shouting, “You don’t want to buy right?” He grabbed the victim’s shoulder and swung the knife at the victim’s face, thinking that it would be difficult for the victim to retaliate in this position.

The victim ducked and shouted that he was sorry, but Teck was relentless, even as blood started spurting from the victim, whose hair was also cut off.

The victim fled and left a trail of blood leading into NTUC. Teck pursued him and swung the knife again at the limping victim, burying the knife in the back of the victim’s head. Teck felt a slight resistance when he pulled the knife free, according to the prosecution.

As he continued to chase the victim, Teck realised that he had attracted the attention of the public, and fled from NTUC, knife in hand. He ran to the ground floor and left the knife on the top of a drain cover before washing his hands free of the victim’s blood.

He then hailed a taxi to Yishun, which he felt was sufficiently far from Boon Lay. Teck was arrested at around 11pm that day and the knife recovered from the drain cover. Four police reports were lodged in relation to the incident.

Victim left with permanent scars

The victim was tended to by members of the public and conveyed to Ng Teng Fong Hospital. He had numerous lacerations over his scalp, face and ears and arms, including a 7 cm mid-line laceration on his scalp, which extended to his bone. He also had a de-gloving injury on his right forearm.

The victim underwent surgery on the same day and was discharged two days later, but was given 40 days of hospitalisation leave. He has since resumed work.

Further reviews showed that his scars became raised and he had hair loss associated with scarring. He was counselled on laser treatment but has declined for now.

One of his medical reports states that the victim’s injuries will cause “permanent incapacity in terms of disfigurement and scarring”.

The prosecution called for four years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane. While it noted that rehabilitation was usually the predominant sentencing consideration for youthful offenders, it said in Teck’s case that rehabilitation was “entirely eclipsed” by the seriousness of the offence and the high degree of harm involved.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Janice See also pointed out Teck’s checkered history of having been sentenced to a stint in the reformative training centre (RTC) on 25 April 2018 for robbery with hurt and carrying offensive weapons in public places.

Teck’s parents were unable to discipline him and filed a Beyond Parental Control complaint against him when he was 13 years old. Teck was then sent to Boys Town.

He committed the offence, which resulted in an RTC stint while on timed leave from Boys Town. His current offences were committed less than eight months after he was released from the RTC.

Encouraged to commit serious offence

Teck was sent to the Institute of Mental Health for assessment following his offence. His report stated that he had been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a child, and that his current “clinical presentation is most consistent with the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)”. However both these conditions were not deemed to be causally linked to his offence.

His ASPD would not have deprived him of his ability to control his actions, a psychiatrist stated. Teck stated in his report that he slashed the victim with the intention to hurt him badly, but not kill him.

He also admitted that during the offence, he had also been considering what friends in RTC had told him; that he might as well commit a serious offence, as he was under 21 and would not be subject to caning or a long jail term.

For carrying an offensive weapon, Teck could have been jailed up to three years, and caned no less than six strokes. For voluntarily causing grievous hurt with a weapon, he could have been jailed for life, or up to 15 years, and caning or a fine.

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