Yishun fatal assault: Mother of deceased says son did not heed her advice

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SINGAPORE — The mother of a man who allegedly stalked and harassed a family for over two years testified on Monday (24 February) that her son never heeded her instructions to stop visiting the family.

Cornelia Francis testified that on one occasion, she had called the police after her 26-year-old son, Shawn Ignatius Rodrigues, had been attacked by Ryan Xavier Tay Seet Choong, 24, who is a member of the family allegedly harassed by Rodrigues.

Tay and his stepfather Lawrence Lim Peck Beng, 58, are accused of causing grievous hurt to Rodrigues, who died from traumatic asphyxia with head injury after he was found trussed up with raffia string by neighbours of Tay and Lim on 9 July 2016.

According to earlier court proceedings, Tay and Rodrigues had known each other from their days as altar boys with the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea.

Rodrigues eventually developed a liking for Tay and began harassing him. He would follow Tay on his way to school and visit his family in Yishun up to a few times a day. The harassment culminated in Rodrigues being referred to the Centre for Psychotherapy by the Community Court for counselling sessions.

He was later referred to Institute of Mental Health, where a psychiatrist said that Rodrigues presented symptoms suggestive of Asperger’s syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, the counselling sessions and a protection order taken out by Tay’s family did nothing to stop Rodrigues from visiting the family.

On 9 July 2016, after Rodrigues had allegedly disturbed the family at their unit for the fifth time that day, Tay and Lim confronted Rodrigues and pinned him down at a lift landing in an alleged attempt to turn him over to the police. Rodrigues instead died at the scene from traumatic asphyxia with head injury.

While aware that Rodrigues had been visiting Tay’s family, Francis said that she was not aware of the number of times her son had done so or that the family had made 59 police reports against him.

The housewife, who has three other children, testified that she only found out about the attacks on her son when she asked him about the bruises he sustained, allegedly from Tay and his family. She then found out that both Tay and Lim had used a bat on her son, while Tay’s mother had allegedly sprayed Rodrigues in the face.

After an incident when Rodrigues lost his tooth, Francis called the police 23 June 2015.

“I can see his (front) tooth hanging... It was bleeding,” Francis recalled on the stand. Rodrigues had told her that Tay had kneed him in the face while one of Tay’s friends pinned him down. Her son later visited a doctor and had the loose tooth removed.

Cross-examining Francis, Lim’s lawyer Ang Sin Teck asked her, “Did you ask Shawn what prompted these attacks on him?” to which she replied no.

Ang then asked, “Why? Such things happened to your son, you must be angry that such things happened to him.” Francis replied, “I can’t remember”.

In response to the question by Ang on whether she had advised her son not to go to the family’s place, Francis said she did advise her son but he said “okay” and continued to do so.

When asked why her son had continued to visit Tay, Francis said, “I didn’t ask him. Even if I asked him, he won’t listen.”

The trial will resume on 2 March with a medical expert expected to take the stand.

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