An 18-year-old boy, whose identity remains protected due to his age at the time of the offence, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for fatally attacking a fellow student at River Valley High School with an axe in 2021.
The victim, 13-year-old Ethan Hun Zhe Kai, was tragically found with multiple wounds in the school’s toilet on 19 July 2021. Despite efforts, Ethan was pronounced dead at the scene.
The court, at the request of Ethan’s grieving parents, has lifted the gag order on his identity, allowing the public to mourn and remember him.
The perpetrator, then a 16-year-old Secondary 4 student, admitted to a gruesome attack involving slashing Ethan’s head, neck, and body. The court learned that the two students were strangers, with the offender choosing Ethan randomly as part of a broader, disturbing plan.
Justice Hoo Sheau Peng, who presided over the case, acknowledged the complexity of the situation. The offender had been suffering from major depressive disorder and had viewed online content desensitizing him to violence.
Yet, she noted that he was aware of the moral and legal implications of his actions.
In what the prosecution described as an “unprecedented” case, they had sought a 12 to 16-year jail term, while the defense argued for a five-year sentence. The 16-year sentence, backdated to his arrest, reflects the severity of the crime and its impact on the community.
The courtroom was filled with attendees, including the offender’s visibly distressed family, who interacted with him during an adjournment.
Ethan’s parents, though absent, conveyed through their lawyer, Mervyn Cheong, their heartbreak and a plea to remember Ethan for his positive attributes, reinforcing his kind-hearted nature.
The court heard that the offender, previously a patient at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) following a suicide attempt, had watched videos depicting death and planned the attack as a means to an end.
During March and April of 2021, he purchased a knife and two axes, one of which was used in the fatal attack.
His purchase of the murder weapon and preparation for the attack were detailed in court.
Post-attack, the offender expressed a mix of catharsis and regret. His interaction with a teacher and subsequent arrest painted a picture of a deeply troubled individual.
Dr Kenji Gwee from IMH highlighted the offender’s psychiatric condition, with major depressive disorder playing a significant role in the incident.
Subsequent medical evaluations suggested that the offender’s decision to attack the victim with an axe was influenced by his major depression; without this condition, the attack might not have occurred.
In subsequent reports, the doctors assessed that if the offender did not have major depression at the time of the killing, he would not have decided to attack the victim with an axe.
The offender qualified for the defence of diminished responsibility based on the psychiatric evidence.
According to section 304 of the penal code, the sentence for culpable homicide that does not constitute murder can include life imprisonment accompanied by caning, or alternatively, a prison term of up to 20 years, potentially with a fine or caning.
In a statement issued last July, the Ministry of Education (MOE) noted that following the tragic incident at River Valley High School (RVHS) involving the death of a 13-year-old student, the school has enhanced its support for students and staff.
This includes the provision of additional counsellors and the establishment of a comprehensive wellness hub, focusing on the socio-emotional needs of the school community. MOE highlighted that RVHS now regularly conducts mental well-being awareness sessions for its students as part of these efforts.
Survey: 6 in 10 Singaporeans believe Budget falls short in easing living costs
Citizens’ concerns about Singapore Airshow 2024
United States vetos UN resolution for cease-fire for the third time
Former Sarawak Governor and CM Taib Mahmud passed away at age 87
South Korean trainee doctors resign in protest against med-school quota increase policy
OCBC allocates one-off payment to junior employees to cope with rising cost of living
US couple’s decision to skip showers in Malaysia over discoloured water criticised
Good Samaritan earns praise for assisting lost girl in Geylang
Bishan HDB maisonette sets record with S$1.48M sale
STB grants support for Taylor Swift concerts, foresees economic boost for Singapore
NUS holds 19th, NTU climbs to 32nd in Times World University Rankings 2024
Leaks and condensation issues persist for some Tengah residents using CCS
Singapore2 weeks ago
PM Lee encourages more births in the year of the dragon amid declining fertility rates
Singapore1 week ago
Singapore surpasses nursing recruitment target in 2023 amidst high attrition rates
Featured6 days ago
PA surveys community & govt confidence amid pending general election
Comments7 days ago
PAP Marcus Loh accuses WP’s MP of alleged dishonesty on debate about reserves
Parliament2 weeks ago
SG Parliament rejects PSP’s motion calling for changes in reserves policies
Civil Society7 days ago
Singaporeans stand firm in support for Palestine amidst police scrutiny
Civil Society5 days ago
At least 9 individuals summoned by police over Palestine solidarity activities on 2 Feb
Community1 week ago
Connectivity struggles in Tengah town prompt online user discussion