Man on trial for killing his father
Elderly woman testifies in court on nephew who allegedly caused father's death: He looked very lost, I gave him a hug
The elderly woman stood in the master bedroom, shocked and worried.
Her younger brother, Mr Tan Kok Keng, 67, lay motionless near the door of the room.
Madam Tan Hoon Choo and her brother's Indonesian maid had frantically tried to revive the man by rubbing his hands and chest.
But he was unresponsive.
"I was praying for him. I wasn't sure if he had fainted," said Madam Tan, 72, the first witness to testify in the culpable homicide trial of her nephew, Mark Tan Peng Liat, yesterday.
He is accused of putting a fatal headlock and chokehold on his father, done with the knowledge that they were likely to cause injuries that could lead to death, around 5.20pm on Feb 10 last year.
The senior Tan suffered a cardiac arrest, and was later pronounced dead in hospital. (See report below.)
Tan, now 30, was initially charged with murder, but it was later amended to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kumaresan Gohubalan yesterday asked Madam Tan what had transpired in the second-storey master bedroom of his brother's semi-detached house at West Coast Rise.
She said the situation was desperate. While the colour of Mr Tan's face looked "quite normal", his eyes were half-open and his lips had turned blue.
When Madam Tan arrived at the house, a two-minute walk from her own West Coast Rise home, she saw her businessman nephew standing in front of his car, which was parked outside the house.
She said he was not his usual self.
"His face was pale. He looked very bewildered and lost. I gave him a hug... I had a grim feeling," she added.
The court heard that Madam Tan was exercising at home when her brother's maid of 13 years, Ms Sumarti Dwi Ambarwati, knocked on the door.
The helper was hysterical. In tears, she pleaded with Madam Tan to go to her brother's home because Mr Tan and his son were fighting.
Madam Tan told the court she did not discuss anything with her nephew during the incident.
She said: "The situation was so serious that I had no words, only the urgency to get my brother to hospital."
She told her nephew to call for an ambulance, and later "ordered" him to accompany his father to the hospital in the ambulance.
Asked by Mr Kumaresan about how the father and son had got along, Madam Tan, who saw her brother two to three times a year, said they had a good relationship.
"My brother was fond of his son. He loved his son, and was very proud of him," she said.
"After he (Mark) got married, he was quite pleased with Mark."
She said her brother was fit and had a black belt in taekwondo. He once boasted to her that he could kill a man with one punch.
When she said Mr Tan had told her to exercise and "not to get flabby", her nephew flashed her a smile from the dock.
During cross-examination, Tan's lawyer, Mr Derek Kang, asked Madam Tan about her brother's financial affairs.
She said he was "extremely sensitive" about money matters and had opened a bank account for his children.
"He told me it was actually their money," she said.
When their grandfather died, all the grandchildren, including Tan and his sister, were bequeathed an unspecified amount of inheritance.
Since they were still in school, the money was given to their parents to be held in trust, said Madam Tan, who was the executor for her father's will.
When Mr Kang asked if Madam Tan knew that her brother had not given Tan his share of the money, she replied that she found out from her niece, Tan's sister, only after Mr Tan's death.
If convicted of culpable homicide, Tan can be jailed up to 10 years, fined or caned.
The trial resumes today.
My brother was fond of his son. He loved his son, and was very proud of him.
- Madam Tan Hoon Choo
ABOUT THE CASE
Neighbours heard screams from Mr Tan Kok Keng's semi-detached house at West Coast Rise on the evening of Feb 10 last year.
What began as an argument between him and his son, Mark Tan Peng Liat, escalated into violence, resulting in the older man's death.
Originally charged with murder, Tan is now on trial for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
He is alleged to have caused his father's death "by applying a headlock and a chokehold over his neck region, which were acts done with the knowledge that they were likely to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death".
Mr Tan was taken unconscious to the National University Hospital and was pronounced dead about an hour later.
Tan also faces an additional charge of having 15 airsoft guns without a licence, which carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and three years' jail. It is understood he plans to plead guilty to this charge.
District Judge Eddy Tham had earlier set Tan's bail at $50,000.