Singapore

Judge gives man shortest sentence of 2 years’ jail for killing wife

Judge gives man shortest sentence of 2 years' jail for killing wife

A 69-year-old retired aircraft technician was yesterday given a sentence of two year's jail - the shortest ever meted out for intentional culpable homicide here - in light of the unusual circumstances surrounding his case.

Kong Yee Peng killed his wife of 36 years by stabbing her repeatedly while suffering psychotic delusions that his family may harm him.

As the jail term was backdated to March 13 last year, when he was arrested, Kong was released from prison yesterday, given the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.

High Court Judge Choo Han Teck said "punishment is probably not the most appropriate response to a man like the accused here". He wondered if punishment was even necessary.

"His madness is its own punishment," he said. The problem, said the judge, lies with "an archaic law that has been incorporated into our statute".

He was referring to a legal test, known as the M'Naghten rule, laid down in a 19th-century English case that declared a man not to be insane if he either knew what he was doing or that what he was doing was wrong.

"From that moment on, legal insanity and medical insanity have not fitted themselves snugly in the same box," Justice Choo said.

He said the M'Naghten rule should be re-examined and that "doctors and lawyers should speak a common language" when dealing with the mental responsibility of a mentally ill accused.

Kong started behaving oddly last year. He refused to take his medication, believing, for instance, that laxatives were poison.

On March 12 last year, though a health check showed no adverse results, he was worried that someone was trying to harm him or that he was going to die from a disease. He also told his older daughter that he did not think she was his biological daughter.

At church the next day, Kong told a stranger that people were poisoning him. After he returned home, he took a nap but woke up to roaring sounds.

He took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed Madam Wong Chik Yeok until she was dead. An autopsy noted 189 injuries.

The prosecution, which had sought at least nine years' jail, is appealing against the sentence.

Defence counsel Sunil Sudheesan had asked for a five-year jail term.

Kong pleaded guilty last month to culpable homicide. He was charged with murder but the charge was reduced, as a court-mandated psychiatric assessment found that his mental responsibility for his actions had been substantially impaired by his psychotic delusions.

Kong's psychiatric disorder is now in remission with medication.

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