He broke a man's skull with his bare fist in a fight

The fight broke because Ker (left) felt Mr Ong had been rude to a waitress.
The fight broke because Ker (above) felt Mr Ong had been rude to a waitress.

Victim has brain damage and amnesia; attacker sentenced to nine months' jail

A man's blow with his bare fist in a fight in January was so powerful that it broke another man's skull. To this day, the victim has not recovered fully. He cannot even remember being in the fight.

Yesterday Ker Kian Hwee, 37, a part-time security officer, was sentenced to nine months' jail after he pleaded guilty to causing grievous hurt by a rash act that endangers human life.

The victim is Mr Ong Hock Wah, 38, a dishwasher.

A district court heard that on Jan 2, Ker went with two friends, Mr Charlie Tan Chien Meng and Mr Ng Weng Yap, both 37, to E Red Dot pub at 69 Kampong Bahru Road. They met Mr Ong, an acquaintance, there.

Just before 2am the next day, Ker and his two friends left the pub to eat at the Ya-Mahyuddin Al-Jailani Restaurant at 89, Kampong Bahru Road. Mr Ong joined them later.

Ker and Mr Ong then quarrelled as Ker felt Mr Ong had been disrespectful to a pub waitress earlier.

Ker slammed the table with his hands and stood up, prompting Mr Ong to get up. Ker then wrapped his arm around Mr Ong's neck and dragged him out of the restaurant. Mr Tan and Mr Ng followed.

Outside, in Blair Road, Mr Ong and Ker traded several blows. One of Ker's blows caused Mr Ong to fall unconscious and start bleeding from the left ear.

Ker fled the scene; Mr Tan tried to help Mr Ong to sit up and asked if he was okay. But Mr Ong stared back blankly and did not respond.

Shortly afterwards, Ker returned and saw Mr Ong bleeding heavily. When Ker, Mr Tan and Mr Ng heard that the police and ambulance were on their way, they fled.

Mr Ong was taken to the Singapore General Hospital. But he left the hospital on his own at about 3.50am in a taxi.

When the cab arrived in Jurong West Street 61, he got out and walked unsteadily before collapsing in front of the cabby.

He was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in a deep coma. He was found to have a fractured skull, traumatic brain injury and bleeding in the brain.

He underwent brain surgery and was later transferred for inpatient rehabilitation at the Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hospital.

The court heard that, as of end May, he continued to be cognitively impaired, with severe retrograde amnesia and deficits in short-term memory, attention span and processing speed.

He also has difficulty in expressing himself. He is able to recognise people and faces, but is unaware of the date and time.

He also has problems with learning new tasks, such as how to use a mobile phone.

However, he has good insight into his current condition and is able to care for himself at home, although he is still unable to work.

He is unable to recall events leading up to his hospitalisation. The retrograde amnesia is likely to be permanent, but Mr Ong is likely to recover further and may return to work later, the court heard.

For his crime, Ker could have been jailed for four years and fined $10,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'He broke a man's skull with his bare fist in a fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe