Coffeeshop assistant jailed 8 years for fatal slashing of patron over self-service policy

Khor Tzoong Meng, 51, was sentenced to eight years' jail after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide for slashing 37-year-old Ang Kim Keat with a cleaver.
Khor Tzoong Meng, 51, was sentenced to eight years' jail after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide for slashing 37-year-old Ang Kim Keat with a cleaver. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A dispute arising from a coffeeshop customer's unhappiness over its "self service" policy on drinks turned fatal when an off-duty coffeeshop assistant confronted the patron with a cleaver.

The assistant, Khor Tzoong Meng, 51, was sentenced to eight years' jail on Monday (July 31) after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide for slashing 37-year-old Ang Kim Keat with the cleaver, inflicting a gaping 20-cm long wound to his neck. The victim later died in hospital.

The High Court heard that on Feb 26 last year, Khor, who worked the 3pm to 11pm shift at a coffeeshop at Hougang Avenue 3, remained at the coffeeshop after his shift, drinking beer by himself.

Shortly before 2am the next day, Mr Ang came to the coffeeshop , bought food from a stall and ordered a soft drink, asking for it to served to his table.

However, one of the coffeeshop assistants on duty told Mr Ang that he would have to serve himself as the coffeeshop had a "self service" policy after 11pm.

Mr Ang became upset and shouted at another coffeeshop assistant, Mr Teo Choong Meng, who repeated the policy to the patron, who shouted at him .

After Mr Ang finished his meal, he threw the plate on the floor and toppled his chair before confronting Mr Teo, who again explained the policy to him, pointing to a displayed sign.

As the customer walked away, he confronted Khor, accusing him of staring at him. Khor apologised and said he was not staring, but Mr Ang hurled vulgarities at him before leaving.

Khor told Mr Teo that he wanted to explain the policy to the patron. Despite Mr Teo's advice not to bother, Khor armed himself with a cleaver and followed the customer.

Near the lift landing, Khor had a verbal row with the customer. When Mr Ang punched him in the right eye, Khor took out his cleaver and slashed Mr Ang in the neck. After the victim collapsed, Khor wiped the bloodied cleaver on the grass and returned to the coffeeshop.

A passerby, who had seen Khor "talking softly" with Mr Ang on his way to a convenience store, saw the victim lying in a pool of blood on his way back, and sought help from another passer-by.

Meanwhile, Khor washed the cleaver before returning it. He continued drinking, telling Mr Teo he was "in great trouble" and that he had slashed the patron.

Khor went home, took a shower and soaked his clothes in a basin, before calling his brother to admit that he has slashed a customer. He was arrested at home shortly after.

In mitigation, his lawyer Josephus Tan, noted that an eyewitness had seen Khor talking softly and that it was Mr Ang who first resorted to violence. Things got out of hand when Khor was punched in the eye, he said.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Daphne Lim asked for 10 to 12 years' jail, noting that Khor chose to arm himself in anticipation of some violence and that his conduct would have caused public disquiet.