SINGAPORE: A knife-wielding man who was shot by the police after attacking random passers-by and charging at officers pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Sep 27) to violence offences.
Soo Cheow Wee, 50, pleaded guilty to four charges including voluntarily causing hurt by using a cutting instrument, criminal intimidation and causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty. Another four charges will be considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Soo went to Geylang on the morning of Feb 17 and drank cough syrup and diazepam without prescriptions.
After this, he returned to his mother's house in Clementi. Later that day, he called the police and said someone wanted to kill him and his mother.
He then took a knife, wrapped it in newspaper and left the unit. Soo loitered along a pavement in Clementi, claiming a voice told him to randomly target members of the public.
He approached several pedestrians, swinging his knife, but most of them managed to flee. Soo slashed a 41-year-old man who was on his evening stroll, injuring his arm.
CHARGED AT POLICE OFFICERS
After this, Soo flagged down a taxi and asked to be driven to Clementi Police Division. On the way, he gave conflicting instructions on where to go, and suddenly opened the rear door and tried to alight while the taxi was still in motion.
The driver, a 61-year-old man, alighted to check on Soo, who had fallen on the road. He saw that Soo was holding a knife, and Soo pointed the weapon at him before charging towards him.
The driver then got back into his taxi and locked the doors before driving to the entrance of Clementi Police Division to alert the police.
Soo turned his attention towards the police officers, walking towards them and shouting incoherently with the knife in hand. Despite the police's orders to stop and drop the knife, Soo continued to advance and suddenly charged towards one of the officers.
Sensing an imminent threat to the life and safety of the police officers, the officer fired a round from his service revolver, striking Soo, who fell down.
Soo was arrested and taken to a holding room. His injuries were not life-threatening, and he was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound. He was later discharged from hospital and has been in remand since.
On Tuesday, Soo also admitted to a previous incident in 2019 where he punched the face of an auxiliary police officer thrice. He did so after abusing cough syrup without a prescription. He was trying to return to a police station he was just released on bail from for drug consumption offences.
LONG LIST OF CONVICTIONS FROM 1989
The court heard that Soo had a long list of past convictions dating from 1989. Soo reoffended almost every other year since, receiving sentences ranging from probation to jail and stints in drug rehabilitation centres.
These were for offences such as theft, appearing intoxicated in public places, drug consumption, inhaling an intoxicating substance and assault on a public servant.
His latest conviction was in 2013, when he received seven years and six strokes of the cane for drug consumption. In 2017, he was placed under drug supervision for 24 months.
District Judge Luke Tan said he found this case to be "disturbing" in that a lot of Soo's psychiatric issues stemmed from self-induced consumption of substances. At the time of the offences, he was under a self-induced psychosis from cough syrup, he said.
He told defence lawyer Chooi Jing Yen that his client, who was assigned to him under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, seems to have a problem but has not addressed any of his problems despite medication.
Judge Tan cited another case, where an issue was raised about whether an offender who is well-behaved because of medication in jail will continue to be so outside of jail.
"Look at the videos," said the judge, pointing to closed-circuit television footage of the attacks. "Random people were going about. He had a knife. He was chasing after a few (of them) ... thankfully those people were able-bodied, they could run."
"Think about it - if it was a feeble older individual, or a handicapped person who was there, not so mobile, what would have happened?"
Judge Tan added: "If you know you have a problem, (but) you don't treat it, it becomes an issue for you and everybody. So what do you do about it?"
He called for a report assessing Soo's suitability for corrective training and adjourned the case. Corrective training is a prison regime for repeat offenders without the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.