SINGAPORE: A doctor who repeatedly assaulted his then-girlfriend has been struck off the register of medical practitioners.
Teo Shun Jie Clarence, a registered medical practitioner, was convicted of locking the victim in a room and assaulting her after she refused him sex.
Teo was sentenced to three years, six months and two weeks jail, four strokes of the cane and a fine of S$4,000 on Jun 22, 2020.
In its grounds of decision published on Thursday (Mar 4), the disciplinary tribunal of the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) said Teo's offences implied "a defect in character which rendered him unfit for the medical profession".
ASSAULTED VICTIM THREE TIMES IN 2017
Teo had became acquainted with the victim through an online dating platform in Feburary 2017.
On Mar 12, 2017, Teo brought up the victim's past relationships. Teo was drunk and had punched her in the face when she asked him "what was wrong". She tried to leave the room but Teo interrogated her again about her past relationships and threw another punch at her.
Teo contacted the victim the next day and apologised by saying he had "anger managment issues" and promised it woud not happen again. She accepted his apology and promised to continue to stay in the relationship with her.
On Mar 17, 2017, Teo sent a text message to the victim with a nude photograph of her and told her she would be an "internet sensation".
The victim then decided to end the relationship with Teo on Mar 29, 2017, but was met with harsh verbal abuse.
On Mar 30, 2017, Teo waited for the victim near her residence. On seeing her, he grabbed her and dragged her into his car. He also hit her several times. He also punched her in the face when she struggled. He then drove to his residence and brought her into his bedroom, where he locked the door and punched her again the face.
The victim was allowed to leave Teo's home only after she pleaded with him.
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On Apr 1, 2017, the victim lodged a police report against Teo to ensure her safety.
The third incident and wrongful confinement happened on Aug 27, 2017 at Teo's unit. Teo admitted that he had assaulted the victim in the locked bedroom until the police arrived.
The assault was "done periodically in short bursts" over a period of about two hours, with breaks in between. Teo targeted the victim's face, which the court found was due to his "deep-seated urge to ruin it". The victim feared for her life and had tried to escape. However, Teo locked the room in order to "facilitate" his assault on her.
She also sustained a fracture on her left hand when she used it to protect her face.
"The assault on the victim was relentless and entirely unprovoked and one-sided," said the tribunal. "(Her) medical report disclosed multiple facial fractures, a fracture of her little finger as well as a brain hemorrhage."
The victim was admitted to the Singapore General Hospital's neurosurgical department on Aug 27, 2017. She was treated by the psychiatry department for acute stress disorder and also underwent various medical procedures for her injuries, including brain injuries.
It was after the swelling in her brain had decreased in size that doctors were able to give the green light for surgery on Sep 5, 2017. She was hospitalised for a total of 20 days.
STRUCK OFF FROM THE MEDICAL REGISTER
The tribunal said the counsel for the Singapore Medical Council submitted Teo's name to be struck off from the register.
"This was mainly because of the violent acts committed by (Teo), the severity of the victim’s injuries, and the imperative need to maintain the standing of the medical profession," it said.
The counsel also highlighted the nature of the offences committed and its impact on the victim and the profession, said the tribunal, adding that Teo has "clearly demonstrated a persistent lack of insight into the seriousness and consequences of his assaults".
READ: Doctor who assaulted ex-girlfriend when refused sex to be referred to disciplinary tribunal: SMC
"(Teo)’s conviction has brought the medical profession into disrepute. (His) actions are clearly fundamentally incompatible and inconsistent with (his) obligations as a doctor as enshrined in the SMC Physician’s Pledge, specifically, the need for doctors to maintain due respect for human life," the counsel had submitted.
"It is thus imperative for this Disciplinary Tribunal to restore public confidence in the medical profession, and the only way to do so is for (him) to be struck off the Register.”
The counsel also highlighted that Teo suffered from "alcohol use disorder and borderline personality disorder" at the time of the offences. It also urged the tribunal to consider the psychiatric conditions in determining Teo's culpability.
It added that Teo was "remorseful" for the harm caused to the victim and had made compensation for the medical expenses incurred. The counsel also said that Teo pleaded guilty to the charges at the "earliest opportunity".
However, the tribunal said it found that the "standing of the medical profession was severely impacted" by Teo's misconduct. It noted that Teo assaulted the victim on three separate occasions and the severity escalated with each occasion.
It noted the offences were committed during a period of relationship and not an "isolated one-off offence". The tribunal also said Teo had also continued with his physical assault against the victim after his apology.
"There was no step taken by (Teo) to apologise to the profession for his action at an early stage before the criminal hearing or to voluntarily cease practice pending the outcome of his criminal case as a sign of his remorsefulness and taking responsibility," said the tribunal.
It added that unlike suspension, striking off Teo's name from the register would "provide a better mechanism" for the Singapore Medical Council to determine if Teo is fit again to have his name restored to the register.
"The escalating severity of the victim's injuries also demonstrated a persistent lack of insight into the seriousness and consequences of his misconduct. Clearly there was a defect in his character.
"His criminal convictions have brought the medical profession into disrepute and his criminal misconduct is fundamentally incompatible with being a doctor," said the tribunal.
Besides being struck off, Teo will also have to pay the costs and expenses of these proceedings, including the costs of the solicitors to the Singapore Medical Council.