News

Neighbour attacks retiree with screwdriver

Man turns violent during spat over dirty corridor

They had been next-door neighbours for about 25 years, but they never could get along.

It was just his bad luck to be living there, said Mr Goh Tee Tee, 67, of his five-room HDB flat in Bukit Panjang.

The retiree shares the flat with his 62-year-old wife and adult son.

That bad luck turned violently rotten when odd-job labourer Oh It Meng, 49, attacked Mr Goh with a screwdriver in February.

Oh was jailed for four months yesterday after pleading guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt.

A theft charge, for stealing Mr Goh's pouch containing $20 from outside the latter's flat at around 6.15pm on Feb 18, was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Asran Samad said Mr Goh had returned home at around 3pm on Feb 18 and noticed that a cleaner had cleaned the stretch of common corridor outside his unit.

But he spotted litter when he stepped out about three hours later to water his potted plants.

Oh was standing outside his own flat at that time holding a screwdriver.

Mr Goh told him not to dirty the corridor, but Oh denied doing so.

A scuffle broke out and Oh used the screwdriver to slash the older man's face before fleeing.

Mr Goh told The New Paper that he was shocked when his neighbour suddenly attacked him.

He said: "I felt pain and ran into my flat. There was blood all over the floor and I closed the door.

"My wife came home about 30 minutes later and called the police when she found out what happened."

An ambulance took him to the National University Hospital, where his wound was stitched up. He was discharged the same day.

Pointing to a faint scar on his forehead, he said with a shudder: "I'm lucky that he hit here. It would have been worse if he had hit my eye."

The court heard yesterday that this was not Oh's first brush with the law.

He had been convicted of drug-related and housebreaking offences in the past.

Oh's lawyer, Mr Amos Cai, pleaded for a lenient jail sentence and told District Judge Ng Peng Hong that his client is extremely remorseful, adding that Mr Goh's injury was minor.

Mr Cai said that Oh, who used to earn about $500 a month, lives with his cancer-stricken 72-year-old mother.

She depends on Oh to take care of her, said the lawyer.

TNP tried to speak to the elderly woman yesterday, but she was not at home.

Mr Goh said that Oh and his mother mostly kept to themselves.

WORRIED

As Oh had been in remand since February, he could have been released yesterday.

Mr Goh appeared worried when TNP told him about this.

He said: "The incident has left more than a scar on my forehead. I am scared and worried that when he comes back, something else will happen.

"I have to walk past his door every day to get in and out of my house."

Worried for his family's safety, he said he has considered moving out to avoid his neighbour.

But he added that this would be difficult because of issues such as his age and the high cost of housing.

Mr Goh said: "I think I will just do my best to avoid him. Since the court case is over, forgiving is not the issue any more.

"I hope he can reform and not do this kind of thing any more.

"But I feel that four months' jail is not enough for him. It should have been four years."

For voluntarily causing hurt, Oh could have been jailed up to two years and fined a maximum of $5,000.


The incident has left more than a scar on my forehead. I am scared and worried that when he comes back, something else will happen.

- Mr Goh Tee Tee

Past neighbour disputes

SEPTEMBER 2013

Footage of an elderly woman being beaten up by her neighbour outside their flat in Chai Chee went viral.

A security camera was installed in the lift lobby by the elderly woman's relatives after she had been approached and provoked by the neighbour several times before.

The woman received more than 50 blows during the 20-minute clash.

OCTOBER 2011

Two neighbours fought over the ownership of a drain outside their semi-detached homes in Paya Lebar.

One neighbour wanted to cover the open drain and extend the fencing. The other claimed that she had gone ahead with construction with PUB's permission, but without his permission.

Unhappy, he engaged a lawyer to contest the decision and spent about $50,000. The outcome is unknown.

MAY 2010

A scuffle took place between two neighbours at Changi Gardens Condominium. The relationship between the two parties had soured when one complained that the other's joss stick smoke had entered his home.

AUGUST 2009

The dispute between seven neighbours at Everitt Road lasted 16 years, from 1993 to 2009, and was said to have been triggered by a row over parking space. It was a case where several neighbours were angry with one particular family.

The families approached their Member of Parliament but mediation efforts failed to resolve the conflict.

The saga ended in 2009 after members of the family in question were fined.