Orchard Towers death: First two men sentenced for role in fatal fight

Orchard Towers death: First two men sentenced for role in fatal fight

Pieces of tissue paper soaked in blood seen at the entrance of Orchard Towers
Pieces of tissue paper soaked in blood seen at the entrance of Orchard Towers on Jul 2, 2019. (Photo: 8world News/Cai Youxia)

SINGAPORE: Two men were sentenced to jail on Wednesday (Mar 4) for their roles in a gang fight that led to the death of a man at Orchard Towers last year.

Joel Tan Yun Sheng, 26, was given four weeks' jail after pleading guilty to voluntarily causing hurt to the victim by common intention. Another charge of consorting with co-accused Tan Sen Yang, who had an offensive weapon, was taken into consideration.

His co-accused, 26-year-old Ang Da Yuan, was sentenced to eight months' jail and six strokes of the cane. He pleaded guilty to voluntarily causing hurt to the victim by kicking and punching him, and to consorting with Tan Sen Yang. A third charge was taken into consideration.

Both Joel Tan and Ang had originally been charged alongside five other people with murder with common intention, but later had their charges reduced. Only Tan Sen Yang still faces a murder charge.

The court heard for the first time the sequence of events that led to the death of 31-year-old Satheesh Noel Gobidass on Jul 2, 2019.

WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT

Ang had met Joel Tan on the night of Jul 1, 2019, before proceeding to a club to drink beer at Oriental Plaza. They were joined subsequently at different clubs by several others including co-accused Natalie Siow Yu Zhen, 22.

The group, which included at least 10 people, later went to the Naughty Girl Club on the second floor of Orchard Towers, where Joel Tan ordered two towers of beer and continued drinking. 

READ: Orchard Towers death: 2 more get murder charges downgraded, leaving one facing capital charge

Co-accused Tan Sen Yang, 27, took out a Karambit knife from his pocket and slammed it on the table, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Feng Qian.

Joel Tan saw the curved knife resembling a claw and covered it. He pushed the weapon towards Tan Sen Yang, asking him to keep it and not show it around.

At about 6.20am on Jul 2, 2019, the group finished their beer and decided to leave. While walking out, a second group of about five people walked into the club, causing some congestion at the doorway.

Tan Sen Yang exchanged terse and vulgar words with the second group, and both groups started shouting secret society slogans, including Ang and Tan Sen Yang.

Tan Sen Yang taunted the other group, and Ang joined in, asking them: "What do you all want? If you all want to talk, you all can talk next time or we can meet downstairs also can."

Security officers at the club stepped in, and other people began congregating near the entrance, including the victim.

TAN SEN YANG WAVED KNIFE, SIOW DASHED AT PEOPLE

Tan Sen Yang took out his Karambit knife and waved it around, in a scene that was captured on CCTV footage. He swung it at the people at the scene, slashing a security guard on the finger and cutting the face of a passer-by.

Meanwhile, Siow dashed at the people in the doorway, jumping at them, and flipping a table onto the floor. She was pulled back repeatedly by people from the accused persons' group.

After some scuffling, someone shouted "police" and the groups parted. However, when the accused persons' group was walking to the exit on the ground floor, the victim came down the escalator by himself and confronted Ang.

He pointed at Ang and shouted at him, asking what his group wanted, court documents said.

Ang shoved him away, and a fight broke out, with Joel Tan and Tan Sen Yang going to help. In the tussle, Ang exchanged punches with the victim, while Joel Tan pushed his palm towards the victim's face.

Tan Sen Yang then swung the blade of his knife towards the victim's lower jaw and neck, slashing him a few times.

Joel Tan saw a lot of blood on the victim's face, even as he threw a punch at the victim and Siow swung her arm at the victim and kicked him.

VICTIM BLED PROFUSELY, DIED OF STAB WOUND TO NECK

The victim began bleeding profusely, with his blood dripping onto the floor. Ang continued his aggression, punching the victim in the facial region even after the victim retreated.

Ang's group restrained him eventually and all of them left Orchard Towers.

Immediately after they left, the victim walked a few steps towards the entrance of the building before collapsing face-first on the floor.

The security officer who had been slashed on the finger went to the scene after hearing screams, in time to see the victim collapse.

He tried to give chase to the accused persons' group, but they had fled in different directions.

Passers-by gathered, with some attending to the victim, trying to stop the bleeding with tissue and bandages. An ambulance arrived and took the victim to the hospital, but he died at about 7.25am. 

An autopsy found that the cause of death was a stab wound to the neck.

The prosecutor asked for at least four weeks' jail for Joel Tan, saying she recognised that Tan Sen Yang's acts in slashing the victim cannot be attributed to Joel Tan, who has no previous convictions.

However, there was group violence involved and a certain degree of public disquiet, said Ms Ang.

She noted that Joel Tan has spent eight months in remand, but said the prosecution was not taking a position on how the sentence ought to be backdated.

She stressed that there was no delay on the prosecution's part, and said they had arranged for an urgent mention once their position was finalised.

Ms Ang urged for eight months' jail and six strokes of the cane for Ang, who has previously been convicted of violence-related offences.

He was most recently jailed for three weeks for voluntarily causing hurt in 2018. The prosecutor added that Ang introduced "secret society elements" by shouting slogans. 

DEFENCE LAWYERS' ARGUMENTS

Joel Tan's defence lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong of Invictus Law asked instead for not more than four weeks' jail, saying their client had the lowest culpability among his co-accused.

Mr Tan said the death "was not attributable to Joel", and that he did not wield any weapons. 

He said Joel Tan had only punched the back of the victim's head once, pushed his palm out towards the victim's face when the victim tried to punch him, and intervened by standing between Ang and the victim as the two men were exchanging punches.

The lawyer added that Joel Tan was "the one who had coordinated the collective surrender of some of the co-accused persons and Joel was also the one who had contacted the police".

He asked the court to backdate his client's sentence, so that Joel Tan could walk free after being sentenced.

Ang's lawyers, Kertar Singh, Anil Sandhu and Mohamed Arshad from Kertar & Sandhu, asked for not more than eight months' jail and six strokes of the cane for their client.

Mr Anil said Ang, who was a hotel receptionist until he was arrested, did not know that Tan Sen Yang had used a knife on the victim.

The lawyer also said that the victim had "acted in a highly provocative manner" when he ran down the escalators to catch up with the accused persons' group.

Mr Anil added that the victim had pushed Ang with "much greater force" into the shutters of a closed shop, and punched Ang in the face.

"While Ang should not have resorted to violence, it is noted that it was never his intention for any serious harm to be caused (the victim) using a weapon," said Mr Anil.

He said Ang is deeply remorseful and regrets the events of that day.

"Ang (along with Joel and Natalie) understood the severity of the situation and took the brave step of turning themselves in," said Mr Anil. 

"Ang deeply regrets that a life has been lost and he will have to bear this burden for the rest of his life. The entire incident has impressed upon Ang the fleeting nature of life and Ang vows to stay on the straight and narrow and focus on taking care of his family after he has paid his debts to society."

The pair are the first two to be sentenced in relation to this case. The cases for five others are pending, with several of them returning to court for pre-trial conferences on Thursday.

For voluntarily causing hurt to the victim, with common intention, Joel Tan could have been jailed for up to two years, fined a maximum S$5,000, or both.

For knowingly consorting with Tan Sen Yang when he had an offensive weapon, Ang could have been jailed for up to three years and given at least six strokes of the cane.

Source: CNA/ll(cy)

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