SINGAPORE: The operator of an illegal brothel in Geylang was sentenced to death on Wednesday (May 31) for the “savage, merciless” murder of a pimp who worked for him.
Chan Lie Sian, 53, bludgeoned 35-year-old William Tiah Hung Wai to death with a metal rod on Jan 14, 2014, causing multiple skull fractures and a brain injury so severe that Tiah had “zero chance” of survival.
Chan attacked him because he was convinced the pimp had stolen S$6,500 from his pocket while he was asleep, the High Court heard.
Tiah denied he was a thief until last his breath, Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang told the court.
DPP Phang described the attack as "savage" and "merciless". Chan delivered at least nine blows to Tiah’s head with the metal road, causing his skull to shatter and bone fragments were embedded in his brain.
“(Chan) targeted (Tiah’s) head, a vulnerable part of the body. The extent of the skull fractures … showed a relentless and vicious attack”, DPP Phang said. “This cannot show anything but an intent to kill.”
Tiah was left unconscious and unresponsive on the brothel floor for at least four hours before he was taken comatose to Tan Tock Seng Hospital at 6.35pm.
An emergency brain surgery was performed, but doctors said the extent of his injuries meant Tiah had “zero chance” of survival.
He died a week later.
Chan’s lawyers contended Tiah had died of bronchopneumonia, which he had contracted while in hospital.
They also claimed Chan had been high on sleeping pills and cough syrup at the time of the assault, and that he had hit Tiah by accident as the men fought over the metal rod.
DPP Phang said the defence is “untenable” and “at odds with the objective medical evidence”.
In finding Chan guilty of the murder, Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng rejected his account that the blows were accidental.
She pointed to “objective evidence … of (Tiah’s) injuries and bloodstains (at the scene)”, which showed Chan had “viciously” and “persistently” attacked Tiah with the metal rod.
Bloodstains at the scene “paint a picture of (Tiah’s) desperate attempt to flee”, DPP Phang said. The attack started in the living room of the house – which was used as a brothel – and ended in a bedroom.
Bloodstains were found on the walls and ceiling of the living room, on the floor leading to the bedroom and in the bedroom itself.
It was in the bedroom that Tiah lay unconscious for hours, and into which Chan “invited” witnesses to see for themselves the consequences of stealing from him.
He also invited Tiah’s friend, Chua Thiam Hock, to the brothel and assaulted him with the same metal rod when he arrived, suspecting he had played a part in the alleged theft.
Then he locked him in the bedroom where Tiah lay unconscious, to stop him from calling the police.
JC Hoo also noted that Chan had continued to bludgeon Tiah even as the man lay unconscious, and remarked to a witness that even if Tiah was not dead, he (Chan) would break his arms and legs.
Chan knew that hitting a “weakened” man on the head with a metal rod would kill him, JC Hoo said. “I find that he had the intent to kill.”
The punishment for murder is the death penalty.