SINGAPORE: A man who was originally charged with murdering his 26-year-old wife on a footpath in Boon Lay was sentenced to seven years' jail and nine strokes of the cane on Tuesday (Feb 15) for a lower charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt.
China national Cui Huan, 25, had attacked his wife after she admitted to having an affair with her colleague. When she fell and hit her head on the concrete, he continued to punch and kick her neck and head until a passer-by intervened.
He pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt, intending to cause grievous hurt but causing her death.
The court heard that Cui married his wife Liang Xueqiu in May 2016 in China. They came to Singapore in October 2019 to work at catering company Deli Hub Catering, but were housed at different locations due to company policy.
They met on their days off, or after work, but Cui began meeting his wife less often in March and April 2020, as they had different shifts. From June 2020, he began suspecting that his wife was having an affair with a colleague in her department.
On Aug 27, 2020, he saw his wife leave Deli Hub on her bicycle. He went to look for his wife's colleague, but was unable to find him. Thinking his wife was spending the afternoon with her colleague, Cui grew upset and decided to take the day off.
He cycled to a block in Boon Lay where his wife stayed, to see if he could catch her behaving intimately with her colleague. However, his wife was not home.
Cui waited at a nearby park until he saw his wife cycling home. He borrowed a friend's bicycle and pursued her, snatching her phone out of her back pocket when he caught up with her.
However, he was unable to unlock the phone to check for incriminating messages, and asked his wife for the passcode. She ignored him and continued to head home.
After returning his friend's bicycle, Cui sought his wife again at her block in Boon Lay Place. He asked her for her handphone's passcode, but she refused to give it to him.
At the void deck, he grabbed her hand so he could use her finger to unlock the phone, and she struggled and bit him on the shoulder.
He managed to unlock the phone and walked off with his wife following behind, looking through the phone's contents.
After finding messages between his wife and her colleague on the WeChat messaging application that indicated to him they were having an affair, Cui confronted his wife.
She admitted to the affair and asked him in Mandarin: "What can you do?"
Cui slapped her face in response. His wife turned to walk away, but Cui pursued her. He caught up with her and punched her back a few times, but she continued to ignore him, the court heard.
Cui asked the victim if she was being fair to him for having an affair, and she replied in Mandarin: "So what".
When Cui slapped her again on her face, the victim slapped his cheek in return. After this, Cui formed the intent to cause grievous hurt to his wife, court documents said.
He lunged at her, grabbed her shoulder and forcefully pushed her to the ground in an "arm-wrestling motion". The victim fell, hitting the back of her head on the concrete floor. An eyewitness heard a loud thud.
Cui's wife curled up in a foetal position and covered the back of her head with her hands. Cui kicked the back of her head and neck a few times, with blood staining his sneaker. He also bent down and punched her once on the back of her head.
Cui stopped his attack when a man began shouting at him. Cui shouted at his wife "you just wait for me to go back to China to divorce you", before fleeing.
Passers-by attended to the victim, who groaned in pain and rolled on the ground before fainting. She was taken to hospital but pronounced dead later that day.
Cui was arrested at his house and claimed he had fought his wife but could not remember details. He later admitted to hitting her and pushing her, but claimed she was still standing when he left.
An autopsy certified the victim's cause of death as subarachnoid haemorrhage, which means bleeding in the space that surrounds the brain. She suffered other key injuries that were caused by Cui, including a 2.7cm-long laceration on her head, bleeding in the brain and bruising over her neck and nose.
The doctor clarified that the death-causing injury was caused either by the victim's fall to the concrete floor from being pushed by Cui, by Cui's kicks and punch to her head and neck, or a combination of the two.
Cui thereby caused the victim's death, the court heard. He was assessed and found to be free of any mental disorder.
The prosecutor asked for seven to nine years' jail and nine to 12 strokes of the cane, highlighting three aggravating factors: That it was a sustained attack, that there was an intent to cause grievous hurt, and the need to deter family violence.
DEFENCE ALLEGES PROVOCATION
Defence lawyer John Koh of Populus Law said there was no contention on whether there was any premeditation.
"This matter arose primarily from my client's discovery of his spouse's adultery or having an affair with her colleague at the workplace," he said.
"As such, we are submitting that this incident broke out in hot blood and that he had lost a bit of control during the argument with his wife."
He said his client had no previous convictions. He had come to Singapore with his wife to get a job and improve the quality of life for his family and loved ones back in China, including a four-year-old child he shared with his wife.
He pointed out that Cui was "very young", 23 at the time of the offence.
"It's also not disputed that his wife - although it stems from suspicion of adultery, his suspicion was later founded, and later his wife did explicitly admit to the adultery," said Mr Koh.
He referred the judge to an Institute of Mental Health report, where Cui said his wife shouted: "I went to a hotel room to have sex with (my colleague), what can you do about it!"
Mr Koh said this had "a very big impact" on Cui.
"As mentioned, he came to Singapore with his wife to secure a job, get better quality of life for his loved ones, especially his child, and to receive news that his wife was having an affair with her colleague - he was very, very upset and lost control over his actions," he said.
While he acknowledged that Cui's actions were disproportionate, there was "some form of provocation", said the lawyer, who asked for five years’ jail and nine strokes of the cane.
Cui's sentence was backdated to Aug 27, 2020, when he was arrested. For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned.