SINGAPORE: In a heart-wrenching case that deeply affected the nation, Xavier Yap Jung Houn, 50, confessed on Tuesday to the tragic killing of his 11-year-old twin sons, Yap Kai Shern Aston and Yap E Chern Ethan.
The incident, which transpired near a playground in Upper Bukit Timah, sent shockwaves throughout the nation.
Yap, during his guilty plea on Tuesday, revealed he committed the horrendous act believing he was relieving his wife of the burden of their autistic sons.
The heart-wrenching admission further elaborated on his fear that his children would be subjected to bullying and eventual neglect after his and his wife’s demise.
Originally charged with murder, Yap’s charges were reduced to two counts of culpable homicide in February 2023.
This came after a medical diagnosis established he was grappling with a major depressive disorder of moderate severity during the time of the murders.
The court was informed that the Yap family, which consisted of the father, mother, and the twin boys, resided together and had a domestic helper for assisting with the care of the boys.
The twins, suspected to be on the autism spectrum from the age of two, were officially diagnosed with global development delay and autism in May 2017.
The prosecution highlighted that the twins’ mother had a challenging time accepting their diagnosis.
In 2019, despite their non-verbal status, they were enrolled in a mainstream primary school. The twins’ education, however, was heavily reliant on the presence of their mother and maid, leading to irregular attendance.
Despite the challenges, Yap maintained a strong bond with his sons, assisting with their daily needs and becoming more actively involved in their studies over time.
However, he grew increasingly disheartened by his wife’s difficulty in accepting their condition, leading to concerns that intensified around 2021.
Yap’s concerns reached a peak when he noticed his wife’s mounting frustration and depression as the boys faced an assessment to determine their continuation in mainstream schooling. This led him to develop a devastating plan around the start of 2022.
On 21 January, Yap drove his sons to the secluded Greenridge Crescent Playground. After a brief play session, the unsuspecting boys were taken to an adjacent field where Yap proceeded with the unspeakable act.
Despite his initial intent to end his life as well, Yap failed in his suicide attempts.
In a desperate bid to face the death penalty, Yap tried to feign an attack, even calling the police claiming assault and implicating another for the boys’ deaths.
However, upon the arrival of law enforcement, Yap’s narrative began to crumble, leading to his eventual confession.
Autopsy reports confirmed that the twins died from strangulation. Medical evaluations subsequently revealed Yap’s severe depressive disorder, which impacted his judgment, leading to his belief that ending his sons’ lives would free them from their struggles.
The charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder can result in life imprisonment, caning, or up to 20 years’ jail and fines. The court has yet to announce Yap’s sentence.