Singapore

Jail for couple who tortured intellectually disabled flatmate to death

He is sentenced to 14 years' jail. She is sentenced to 16½ years.

The families of the couple who cruelly abused their flatmate until she died apologised to the victim's family yesterday, and urged the public not to let their outrage spill over to them.

The eldest brother of Tan Hui Zhen proffered the apology outside the courtroom after she and her husband, Pua Hak Chuan were sentenced yesterday, though he acknowledged it was not enough.

Tan, 33, was sentenced to 16½ years' jail.

Her husband Pua, 38, was given 14 years' jail and 14 strokes of the cane, in a case described as "appalling" by the judge. She said the two had abused Ms Annie Ee Yu Lian in an "extremely cruel and inhumane manner", causing her undignified death.

Tan and Pua had pleaded guilty on Monday to various charges over the extensive torture of Ms Ee, 26, a waitress who had intellectual disabilities.

She died of multiple injuries in their Woodlands flat. An autopsy report showed that Ms Ee had suffered fractures to seven vertebrae and 12 ribs.

"We are fully agreed that they should be punished for what they have done," said Tan's eldest brother, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan.

The case generated public outrage over the couple's horrific acts of abuse towards Ms Ee, including assaulting her with a 1kg roll of shrink wrap,.

An online petition seeking harsher punishment has gained more than 20,000 signatures.

Mr Tan, who is in his 30s, said while members of the public were free to comment, he pleaded with them to let it rest.

"Those responsible for the acts are going to be punished. There should not be any more unfortunate happenings to people related to them," he added.

Tan Hui Zhen pleaded guilty to two counts each of causing grievous hurt and causing grievous hurt with a weapon, while Pua pleaded guilty to one count of causing hurt and two counts of causing grievous hurt with a weapon.

Outside the courtroom yesterday, Mr Tan dispelled speculation that the couple had faced less severe charges as a result of their family background or money, noting that lawyer Josephus Tan from Invictus Law was acting for them on a pro bono basis.

He said his sister's mental condition, which her family had noticed, had been under-reported in the media.

"It is most unfortunate that there wasn't any initiative to seek professional help prior to the tragedy happening," he said.

He said her family are still committed to supporting her.

Separately, Pua's mother said through lawyer Josephus Tan that she was deeply apologetic to the victim's family and that her son got what he deserved.

The woman, in her 60s, also asked for the public's understanding and forgiveness.

COURT & CRIME