SINGAPORE: A managing director of a training company was sentenced to seven years in jail (Oct 26) after a tragic incident involving the fatal stabbing of his pregnant wife.
The distressing event was triggered by an inaccurate financial report that led him down a path of anxiety and despair.
David Brian Chow Kwok-Hun, a 35-year-old Singaporean and the managing director of KnowledgeTree Training Centre, found himself struggling with insomnia and severe anxiety after receiving a half-year financial report that, as it later turned out, contained inaccurate financial figures.
This erroneous report set off a series of events that culminated in the tragic loss of his wife, 30-year-old Isabel Elizabeth Francis, and their unborn child.
Chow’s ordeal began in Dec 2021 when he requested the company’s half-year financial report from his accounting staff.
Upon reviewing the report, he was alarmed by the unusually low numbers and suspected an error.
He requested the employee to double-check the figures, and in Jan 2022, they confirmed that the numbers were accurate.
However, it was later discovered that these numbers did not accurately represent the company’s true financial health.
Despite the company’s previous profitability, Chow became consumed by anxiety and distress, convinced that the business was headed for failure.
He began losing sleep and was unable to get more than one to two hours of rest per night.
His family, wife, and colleagues noticed his deteriorating mental state, and despite reassurances from family members, colleagues, and even professionals, Chow’s mental health continued to deteriorate.
He began experiencing vivid and distressing hallucinations, including images of soldiers marching, a devil and “a scary doll” when he closed his eyes.
Drastic action led to wife and unborn child’s loss of life
On the day of the incident, Jan 11, 2022, after experiencing suicidal thoughts for the first time, Chow decided to take drastic action to “save” his wife and unborn child from any potential suffering resulting from his perceived business failure.
He was concerned that his wife might experience embarrassment due to having a husband who committed suicide.
Additionally, he feared that if his business collapsed, others might target his wife and unborn child.
The man felt he had to do something and thought of killing his wife to spare her and their unborn child so they could “go to heaven” while he killed himself.
He took a knife from the kitchen and killed his wife, first stabbing her in the abdomen and then repeatedly in various parts of her body.
Afterwards, he attempted to take his own life but ultimately decided to call the police to report the tragic incident.
The police arrived at the scene, and the victim was pronounced dead, while Chow was arrested and taken to the hospital.
An autopsy revealed that Isabel Elizabeth Francis had suffered ten stab wounds and five incised wounds on her head, neck, and torso, two of which were fatal.
The autopsy of the unborn child, approximately 15 weeks gestational age, confirmed that it would not have survived if born.
Chow’s mental state at the time of the offence was assessed by an associate consultant from the Institute of Mental Health, who found that he was suffering from adjustment disorder with anxious and depressed mood.
While his impulse control was not impaired, it was acknowledged that he exhibited symptoms of anxious and depressed mood.
Prosecution pushes for longer jail term; defense highlights emotional toll
In a court hearing, the prosecution sought a sentence of nine to 12 years’ jail for Chow, while his defence argued for a more lenient five to seven years’ sentence, emphasizing the profound impact the incident had already had on him.
Channel News Asia reported that Chow was defended by Mr Shashi Nathan, Mr Jeremy Mark Pereira and Mr U Sudharshanraj Naidu from Withers KhattarWong.
“He has lost his wife. He has lost his daughter,” said Mr. Nathan.
He added that the real sentence was Chow knowing for the rest of his life that he had done this to two people he loved.
“For me, that is almost like his life sentence. That’s because he will live with this for the rest of his life,” said Mr. Nathan.
Chow sobbed in court and broke down as his lawyer was speaking.
“He has lost everything. All he has is his family. They are here in court, they will support him,” he added.
In sentencing, Justice Pang Khang Chau agreed with the defence that Chow’s offense was “totally out of character” and not premeditated.
The judge considered the similarity of facts to a previous case but ultimately decided against adjusting the sentence further.
The families of both David Brian Chow Kwok-Hun and his late wife were present during the court hearing, with Chow’s father acknowledging the tragic nature of the case.
Numerous online commentators have shared their individual perspectives, with some expressing astonishment at what they perceive as an insufficient jail term.
They argue that the loss of two lives due to the man’s actions should warrant a longer sentence, rather than just 7 years.
“Who was he to decide to end their lives?” one user said, “they were not his property and his wife was also someone else’s daughter and sister,” they added.
The man was labelled as “selfish and senseless” for placing his own issues above the well-being of his wife and their unborn child.
Additionally, one user pointed out that “mental health” is now being used in crime sentencing as a means to avoid severe punishment, describing it as a “flaw” in the justice system.
While many criticized the man for his “cowardice” and his supposed inability to manage stress effectively, some also criticized the accountant’s mistake, suggesting that they should be held “accountable” for causing unnecessary stress to the accused as well.
Nevertheless, some users highlighted the seriousness of mental health issues, emphasizing that they should not be taken lightly to prevent individuals from becoming distressed and causing harm to themselves and others.
They urged everyone to encourage those facing stress and problems to speak up, so that others can offer a listening ear and support.
Where to get help:
Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1767
Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222
Singapore Association for Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019
Additionally, you can also find a list of international helplines here. If someone you know is at immediate risk, call 24-hour emergency medical services.
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