SINGAPORE: Two friends were on Thursday (Aug 25) sentenced to jail and caning for assaulting a man at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery over a rape allegation.
Andre Chen Si'en, 31, and Gervan Wong Jun Heng, 26, attacked the victim with various weapons at the secluded cemetery in the early hours of the morning.
They then made the victim crawl to their car before dropping him off near his home, where he left a blood trail getting up to his apartment.
Both men pleaded guilty to a charge each of voluntarily causing grievous hurt with a dangerous weapon.
Additionally, Chen admitted to voluntarily causing grievous hurt in another incident and taking methamphetamine. Seven other charges were considered for sentencing.
He was sentenced to eight years' jail and nine strokes of the cane.
Wong admitted to 13 other charges of voluntarily causing hurt, consuming drugs and driving offences. Twenty more charges were considered for sentencing.
He was sentenced to seven years, three months and 16 weeks in jail, and six strokes of the cane. He was also fined S$2,400 and banned from driving for two years.
Wong was also ordered to compensate the victim more than S$1,000 in medical fees. Chen previously made voluntary compensation.
The court heard that the 29-year-old victim and Chen were friends who had known each other for many years.
On the morning of May 9, 2020, Chen received messages from his wife and her friend alleging that the victim had raped his wife the night before.
Chen was in Wong's house when he got the messages, and told him about the allegation. Wong agreed to accompany Chen to settle the issue with the victim.
Later that night, Chen called the victim out for drinks. The victim agreed, and Chen offered to pick him up from his place.
Before leaving, Chen asked Wong for weapons. Chen armed himself with a knuckleduster and flick knife, while Wong chose a metal baton.
During the journey to the victim's house, both men discussed bringing him to a secluded place where they would attack him if he admitted to raping Chen's wife.
ASSAULT IN CEMETERY
At about 3am on May 10, 2020, Chen and Wong brought the victim to the cemetery, where Chen asked him about the rape allegation.
Chen became incensed by what he felt were "half-hearted replies" from the victim, court documents stated.
He hit the back of the victim's head with the knuckleduster, which had two sharp horns. One horn tore a chunk of flesh from the victim's head.
The victim tried to flee, but Chen caught up with him. He continued hitting the victim's head and body, and stabbed his legs with the knife.
Wong joined in with the baton, and the two friends took turns attacking the victim. Chen also took the victim's mobile phone and smashed it against a tombstone.
Both men stopped when they became too tired to continue, after which the victim begged them for some water.
Wong took some water from the car and sprayed it in the victim's face instead. Chen then ordered him to crawl back to the car, and they drove to the victim's place.
Around 5.30am, Chen and Wong left the victim near his apartment block. His mother found him at the doorstep of their home and called emergency services.
The victim suffered a head injury, fractures at his arm and foot, stab wounds, lacerations and bruising. He was hospitalised for two days.
He also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and sought treatment at the Institute of Mental Health. His medical bills amounted to more than S$2,000.
Chen and Wong were arrested on May 10, 2020, and both tested positive for drugs. Chen admitted to taking methamphetamine while Wong admitted to taking ketamine the previous night.
"NO ROOM FOR VIGILANTE JUSTICE"
Chen's defence counsel Kalidass Murugaiyan highlighted the rape allegation as an extenuating factor for the court to consider.
He claimed that when Chen and Wong met the victim, the victim said things that seemed to confirm he had "not been a good person", which triggered the attack.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Huo Jiongrui said that the provocation had to come from the victim in order to be considered a mitigating factor.
In this case, the rape claims by Chen's wife and her friend were better described as "indirect incitement to commit the offence", he said.
The prosecutor noted that the women did not ask Chen and Wong to hurt the victim.
Mr Kalidass also said that his client showed remorse immediately after the attack, and helped the victim to "wash his wounds".
But Mr Huo said this was too charitable a description of spraying water in the victim's face, which was a "spiteful act" aimed at humiliating him.
He argued that the attack was premeditated, that Chen and Wong outnumbered the victim and that they caught him off-guard by suddenly attacking him from behind.
The assault was "vicious and needlessly prolonged" and the victim was treated cruelly even after the attack ended, said the prosecutor.
Mr Huo also highlighted that both Chen and Wong were on bail when they carried out the attack.
Chen was on bail for assaulting a stranger in a lift at Ming Arcade in April 2019, while Wong, represented by lawyer Teo Choo Kee, was on bail for drug consumption.
Both men were recalcitrant offenders who had previously committed a variety of serious offences, said the prosecutor. For Chen, this included past violence-related convictions.
District Judge Eddy Tham said that while the rape allegation was serious, it was unproven.
"There is no room for vigilante justice here," he said, adding that the attack on the victim was clearly vindictive.
By luring the victim out to a deserted place and arming themselves, Chen and Wong showed their intent to inflict brutal injuries on the man, said the judge.