Ex-staff nurse jailed one year for vicious assault on IMH patient

Aung Phyo Thu, 26, has been sentenced to one years' jail for viciously attacking an IMH patient in February 2015.
Aung Phyo Thu, 26, has been sentenced to one years' jail for viciously attacking an IMH patient in February 2015. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A Myanmar nurse was sentenced to a year's jail on Monday (April 18) for attacking a patient viciously at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in February last year.

Aung Phyo Thu, 26, admitted to causing grievous hurt to Mr Kong Ah Hoe, 56, a long-term patient who suffers from schizophrenia.

Thu's attack included punching him on the back and head , kicking him on the leg, hitting his head area and punching his chest area, causing two rib fractures, on Feb 17 last year.

Mr Kong who was restrained to the bed at the time, had multiple medical conditions and had difficulties communicating, the court heard. He needs help to move around.

Investigation showed that Thu, who had been on night duty, woke up to a commotion caused by Mr Kong who was trying to get out of his bed at about 5.55 am on Feb 17.

Thu punched Mr Kong on his right back. He then used a blanket to cover Mr Kong's face before throwing several punches at his head area.

Thu then kicked Mr Kong's leg; he then pinned Mr Kong down and hit his head three times. Not satisfied, he then pinned the victim down again and punched his left rib area about 10 times.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ma Hanfeng said all this while, Mr Kong did not fight back and was in no position to resist Thu.

A ward supervisor who found injuries on Mr Kong asked Thu to put up a report to explain the injuries . Thu then falsely stated that the victim's injuries were self-inflicted.

Mr Kong was referred to Alexandra Hospital where he was found to have various injuries and possible fracture on the two left ribs. The fractures were confirmed when a second x-ray was done in July.

DPP Ma sought at least 12 months' jail, citing aggravating factors.

He said Thu had abused the position of trust and responsibility as a staff nurse by relentlessly and viciously assaulting his patient.

He said the victim, who had already been restrained to the bed at the time, would have been defenceless against Thu's assault. There was clearly no need for Thu to cause hurt to the victim. There was also no good reason to excuse him from his senselessly violent acts.

His conduct right after the assault had shown a patent lack of remorse, he said.

District Judge Luke Tan agreed entirely with the prosecution that deterrence must take centre-stage.

He said the aggravating features of this case were stark and clearly called for a sentence that was sufficiently severe to act as a deterrent.

Thu's lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan said Thu's services had been terminated and he was liable for $80,000 in liquidated damages, having attended a nursing science course in Singapore on an IMH scholarship.

The maximum penalty for causing grevious hurt is 10 years' jail and a fine or caning.

elena@sph.com.sg