SINGAPORE: A 30-year-old man who physically abused his mother over several years, hitting her private parts with a metal padlock and starving her when he was stressed with his master's degree studies, was sentenced to 56 weeks' jail on Tuesday (Mar 23).
The prosecutor on Tuesday told the court new details of Andy Koh Ju Hua's abuse, surfaced from new reports. In one incident, after punching his 68-year-old mother's face, Koh demanded that she stand by the sink holding an ice pack to her face from 6.30pm to 6.30am.
He kept watch over her from his room, threatening to hit her if she lowered her hands. He also hit her on the head once with a remote control, leaving a scar.
Over the years, Koh also took steps to evade detection - not allowing his mother to answer the door or be seen by neighbours, and mandating that she hide at a staircase or retreat if neighbours came around.
He dictated that she wear only old, torn clothes so it would be difficult for her to escape and seek help.
Koh's mother said she believed that her son targeted her private region as injuries in that area could be concealed, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang.
Ms Huang shared those details as her basis for seeking 50 weeks' jail, an increase from the original sentence sought of 30 weeks' jail.
In response, Koh asked if he could be given the 30 weeks' jail instead, as he had "plans to continue school and complete my candidature". He added that he was half a year away from completing his master's degree.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) previously said that Koh was no longer with the university. He went on leave of absence in August 2019 and did not return to his studies after the leave expired. As a result, his master's candidature was terminated in January, said NUS.
I HOPE TO BE REUNITED WITH MY MOTHER: KOH
Koh, who is in remand, on Tuesday said he is undergoing psychological treatment and wishes to be reunited with his mother in future.
"Regarding all the silly things I did to her - I plead guilty. I also don't understand why I did all those silly things to her. I need to undergo psychotic treatment," said Koh from remand.
"The IMH doctor has given me anti-psychotic drugs so I need to cure myself. After curing myself I hope to be reunited with my mother. I want to live happily with her and I want to take care of her in the remaining days."
Koh had pleaded guilty last week to four counts of voluntarily causing hurt, one of which is under the newly enhanced provisions for victims in close relationships with the accused.
District Judge Kessler Soh explained that a mandatory treatment order was not an available sentencing option for one of Koh's charges, as such orders are generally suitable only for offences that carry a punishment not exceeding three years.
He agreed with the prosecutor that a substantial jail term was called for, in view of the aggravating factors of the case.
The total term must reflect the extent of pain, suffering and harm that Koh caused his mother, said Judge Soh.
He also took into account the assessment of a psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health that Koh's offences were likely to have been substantially influenced by psychotic symptoms at the time of the offences.
"This is a case that has caused much public disquiet," said the judge.
"We cannot understand how (Koh) could bring himself to attack his own mother in such a cruel manner."
He added that the way Koh attacked his mother was "abhorrent" and that he had to be punished in accordance with the law. He also stressed that it was necessary for Koh to receive treatment to minimise the risk of reoffending after his release.
He said a community court conference with a court counsellor would be convened after the hearing to consider what measures might be taken to protect the victim, as well as what treatment Koh might receive to minimise his risk of offending.