Father accused son of stealing his money before fatal fight
Man on trial over father's death says he used headlock and chokehold he learnt from dad to restrain him
He was driving home when his father phoned him, accusing him of theft.
Taking the stand on the fifth day of his culpable homicide trial, businessman Mark Tan Peng Liat testified yesterday that an angry Mr Tan Kok Keng had ordered him to come home immediately.
Tan, now 30, said his father also asked him: "Are you stealing my money?"
The two men got into a scuffle shortly after he reached their West Coast Rise semi-detached house.
He allegedly killed the older Mr Tan, 67, after restraining him in a headlock and chokehold at around 5.30pm on Feb 10 last year.
Following his arrest, Tan admitted to the police and an Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist that over five years, he had been making regular withdrawals of up to $5,000 per transaction from a joint bank account which he shared with his father and sister.
It was not mentioned in court how often he made the withdrawals or how much he had taken in all.
Tan told the court yesterday that his father was the sole contributor to the account.
Businessman Mark Tan Peng Liat (above) testified that an angry Mr Tan Kok Keng had ordered him to come home immediately. ST FILE PHOTO
However, he added that his father never explicitly told his children that they had to ask for his permission before making any withdrawals.
Tan was originally charged with murder on Feb 12 last year.
The charge was reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder about eight months later.
He is also accused of having 15 airsoft guns without a licence.
When his lawyer, Mr Derek Kang, examined him yesterday, Tan told the court that he had a good relationship with his father and the scuffle that day was their first physical fight.
He added that his father had been "very angry and agitated" when he confronted him in the master bedroom.
Tan also told District Judge Eddy Tham that his father did not tell him exactly why he was in a foul mood.
He said: "I got closer to him to find out what was angering him so much. He threw a punch towards my face."
Tan said he managed to block the blow and tried to hug his father to calm him down.
But the furious older man moved backwards and they ended up in an en suite bathroom.
The two men had a scuffle and fell onto the slippery floor.
Tan said he was restraining his father in a headlock when their maid, Ms Sumarti Dwi Ambarwati, came over.
Tan tried to tell the maid to ask for help, but could not utter a single word as he was out of breath.
She left the room and the scuffle subsided.
Tan said he was in the master bedroom when his father came towards him again. They fell onto the bedroom floor with his father lying face up on top of him.
Tan added that he then wrapped his right arm around his father's neck.
At the same time, he said he used his left hand to press down on the base of Mr Tan's neck.
He said that his father, who had a black belt in taekwondo, was the one who had taught him that method of restraining others.
When Mr Kang asked him why he had held his father down in that manner, Tan replied that he kept swords around the house and two of them were "razor sharp". He did not want his father to get hold of the weapons.
After a short while, Tan noticed that his father had stopped struggling. He released his hold and left the bedroom without checking on the older Mr Tan.
In the meantime, Ms Sumarti went to a nearby house belonging to Tan's aunt Tan Hoon Choo and told her about the fight.
On July 7, Madam Tan, 72, testified that she rushed to her nephew's home and found him looking "very bewildered and lost".
Yesterday, Tan told the court that when they went upstairs together, they found his father lying face up on the floor.
His face appeared slightly darker than usual and his mouth was open.
He called for an ambulance and paramedics rushed Mr Tan to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Tan testified yesterday that he did not think the method of restraint was dangerous and had even used it to jokingly subdue one of his friends, Mr Glenn Lee, during the latter's birthday party in 2003.
He said: "I have no intention to harm (Mr Tan) in any way. I didn't even want to hurt his feelings. I just wanted to stop him. I didn't want any of this to happen."
The trial resumes today.
If convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, Tan could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined or caned.