Expat accused of murdering son may face lesser charge

Graffart arriving at the State Courts last October. The prosecution said he was suffering from major depressive disorder.
Graffart arriving at the State Courts last October. The prosecution said he was suffering from major depressive disorder.ST FILE PHOTO

A Belgian expatriate accused of murdering his five-year-old son may not face the death penalty after all.

The prosecution will be amending the murder charge to a lesser one of culpable homicide if he elects to plead guilty.

Philippe Marcel Guy Graffart was hauled to court last October for causing the death of Keryan Gabriel Cedric Graffart at his 32nd-storey apartment in Leedon Heights between 8.54pm on Oct 5 and 5.29am the next day.

The boy is believed to have been strangled as hand-shaped bruises were found on his neck.

It is believed that Graffart, 42, had been fighting for custody of the boy with his wife.

Graffart, who was then injured, turned up at Bukit Timah Neighbourhood Police Post just after 5am on Oct 6. An hour later, police went to his condominium at D'Leedon and found the body of his son in a bedroom. The boy was pronounced dead by paramedics at 6.17am.

Graffart was head of the Singapore investment management arm of Nordea, a company that describes itself as the largest financial group in northern Europe.

At yesterday's mention, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy told the court that the prosecution is amending the charge from Section 302 to Section 304(b) of the Penal Code, if the accused person elects to plead guilty.

As Graffart was sick, his lawyer Ramesh Tiwary said he would take instructions from his client regarding the prosecution's amendment.

As to why the prosecution is amending the charge, a spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers said: "Every case is assessed on its own merits. The prosecution carefully considered the facts and circumstances of this case.

"The accused suffered from major depressive disorder which substantially impaired his mental state at the time of the offence. The charging and sentencing position will be made clear when the matter is heard in open court."

A pre-trial conference is scheduled in the High Court next Tuesday. The next mention of the case in the State Courts is on May 3.

If convicted of culpable homicide, Graffart could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined, caned or receive any combined punishment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2016, with the headline 'Expat accused of murdering son may face lesser charge'. Print Edition | Subscribe