SINGAPORE: A teenager accused of murdering a 13-year-old boy at River Valley High School returned to court on Tuesday (Aug 10) with a new set of lawyers and his parents in the public gallery.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named as his identity is protected by gag order and he is a minor, appeared via video-link from his place in remand.
The teen faces one charge of causing the death of a Secondary 1 boy between 11.16am and 11.44am on Jul 19 at a toilet on the fourth floor of the school at 6 Boon Lay Avenue.
Police officers found the victim lying motionless and with multiple wounds at a toilet in the school compound. He was pronounced dead at the scene and an axe was seized as a case exhibit.
On Tuesday, lawyer Sunil Sudheesan told the court that he and his colleague Diana Ngiam were taking over the case from previous counsel Peter Fernando.
The teen listened to proceedings and responded where necessary.
The police prosecutor asked for two weeks' extension of remand for completion of a psychological assessment and a forensic assessment pending further investigations by doctors from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
The teen was previously seen as a patient at IMH, after he attempted suicide at the age of 14.
Mr Sudheesan tried unsuccessfully to apply for the court to grant the teen a five-minute video call with his parents and family members.
"They are not to discuss the case, and it's for the parents to check on the well-being of their son," he said.
The prosecutor replied: "We understand the parents' concern, but we'd like to highlight this is a capital charge. Investigations are not completed yet."
He added that the parents can see their son at the appropriate time.
"I'm aware of my learned friend's hesitation," Mr Sudheesan replied. "My suggestion in this very limited scenario is for my learned friend to sit in, to make sure nobody talks about the case.
"Your honour, in normal cases I wouldn't make this application, this is a very young boy and there are very concerned parents in the gallery. A few minutes can do wonders in reassuring the young boy."
District Judge Brenda Tan said this was not the time yet for the teen's parents to speak to him, but said arrangements can be made later at a more appropriate time.
Mr Sudheesan asked if the prosecutor could inform the investigating officer that the boy's parents have "further information on family history" for the IMH doctor.
The judge ordered the teen to be remanded for another two weeks and to return to court on Aug 24.
The penalty for murder includes death. However, according to Section 314 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a sentence of death cannot be passed or recorded against an accused person who was below 18 years old at the time of the offence.
Instead, he or she may be sentenced to life imprisonment.