Mother of man found dead in Yishun says he had been assaulted by church friend before

Mother of man found dead in Yishun says he had been assaulted by church friend before

Shawn Rodrigues
Ryan Xavier Tay Seet Choong (right), 24, and his stepfather Lawrence Lim Peck Beng, 58, at the State Courts on Feb 11, 2020. (Photo: TODAY)

SINGAPORE: The mother of a man allegedly beaten to death in Yishun by a friend he was said to be obsessed with took the stand on Monday (Feb 24) and described how she called the police after her son came home bleeding and with a dangling tooth. 

Ms Cornelia Francis, a housewife, took the stand for the prosecution and said her 26-year-old son, Shawn Ignatius Rodrigues, had returned home on Jun 23, 2015, bleeding from his mouth.

This was just weeks before Mr Rodrigues was allegedly beaten to death by 24-year-old Ryan Xavier Tay Seet Chong, who used to go to the same church as Mr Rodrigues and was a fellow altar boy. 

Tay is contesting a charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Mr Rodrigues, while his stepfather Lawrence Lim Peck Beng, 58, is on trial for aiding him.

Mr Rodrigues was found dead at an Yishun HDB block after purportedly years of harassing Tay, whom he had been obsessed with. 

Tay had made statements to the police earlier, some of which were revealed in a court session last week. In these statements, Tay said he felt Mr Rodrigues had developed a "special liking" for him and became "disgusted".  

"Shawn and I became close friends, because I helped him a lot," he said. "Although he was senior, he was bullied ... because he was retarded."

On the day of the incident, Mr Rodrigues was said to have harassed Tay and his family at their home five times. 


Ms Francis told the court that she called the police on the night of Jun 23, 2015 from her Yishun flat.

In the call, she said her son had been beaten up by his friend, who "used his knees to hit his lips". Identifying herself as Mr Rodrigues' mum, she said his front tooth was "half-hanging" from his mouth and he was bleeding. 

Ms Francis said that according to her son, Tay hit him while Tay's friend held him down.  

Mr Rodrigues later saw a doctor and had his tooth removed, and made a police report, said Ms Francis.

Both Tay's lawyer Peter Low and Lim's lawyer Ang Sin Teck objected to the evidence, saying it was hearsay as Ms Francis was merely reporting what she had been told.

However, the prosecutors said this was an exception as the victim was dead and unable to give evidence.

Ms Francis said there were other times when her son would come home with bruises. Upon prompting, he would say they were inflicted by Tay or Lim. 

She said she had heard from her son that Tay had once hit him with a bat. Lim did the same on another occasion, said Ms Francis. 

Tay's mother also sprayed Mr Rodrigues in the face with an unidentified substance, Ms Francis testified. 

Ms Francis said her son would not tell her anything unless she asked him. She had told him to stop going to Tay's home and he would say "OK" but would go over anyway. 

Tay's lawyer declined to cross-examine Ms Francis, saying her evidence was hearsay. Lim's Lawyer Mr Ang asked Ms Francis if she had questioned her son about the reasons for these attacks. 

 "No," she said.

"May I know why? Such things happened to your son, you must be angry," said the lawyer.

"I can't remember," she answered, but acknowledged that she knew her son had been going to Tay's house to look for him.

The mother of four said she did not know that there were 59 police reports made against her son.

Mr Ang told her court action had been taken against Mr Rodrigues and that he had to go for mediation, where he was told to stop going to Tay's house. 

"When Shawn was told not to go to Ryan's house, what was his reply?" the lawyer asked Ms Francis.

"He just said 'OK'," she answered.

"I'm instructed that there were occasions when the court officer told him not to go and he said 'for now'," said Mr Ang.

When asked why she did not ask her son why he continued to go to Tay's house, Ms Francis said: "Even if I asked him, he wouldn't listen."

The trial continues on Mar 9.

If found guilty of voluntarily causing grievous hurt, Tay could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned.

His stepfather faces the same penalties if convicted of abetting him.

Source: CNA/ll(hs)