Singapore

Judge: Prosecution’s sentence for chef who threatened woman with chopper ‘lenient’

In a rare move, a judge has labelled the prosecution's argument for a sentence as lenient.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yvonne Poon had argued for chef Adrian Chen, 30, to be sentenced to 18 months in jail for threatening a woman with a cleaver. He had placed it against her neck in a public place.

The DPP said it was an aggravated case of intimidation.

In judgment grounds last week, District Judge Kenneth Yap said it was a fair position but "leans on the side of leniency".

He noted the charge involved a threat to cause death or grievous hurt, which has a maximum 10-year jail term and a fine.

Chen, who had pleaded guilty to criminal intimidation in threatening Madam Lim Thi Tuyet Hong, 42, was given a concurrent sentence of two weeks' jail for punching her.

Around midnight on Sept 25, last year, Madam Hong saw Chen arguing with his girlfriend outside the restaurant Madam Hong owns on Joo Chiat Road, and intervened.

After his girlfriend left, Chen took out a chopper with a 15cm-long blade from his bag, and confronted Madam Hong.

He pushed her to the ground.

After she stood up, he placed the knife against her neck, uttered a threat and punched her face, prompting restaurant patrons to step in and evict him.

Madam Hong called the police after Chen returned 40 minutes later. She had bruises and abrasions and received outpatient treatment the next day.

Arguing for the 18-month sentence, DPP Poon pointed to past cases, including one in 2002 of a police officer who was jailed for three years for threatening a supermarket manager with his service revolver after being held for shoplifting.

Chen's lawyer, Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan said Chen acted on impulse and was prepared to undergo counselling.

Judge Yap said the prime consideration must be the nature of the threat and the extent of alarm engendered in the victim.

Noting Chen was "clearly prepared to get his way" by using the chopper, the judge said "perhaps the most serious consideration must be the environment and surrounding context".

"The sense of alarm is magnified when the threat is made in public, at a restaurant where other patrons are also within arm's reach of the accused," Judge Yap said.

Chen is appealing.

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