Man jailed three years for punching security guard, who died of his injuries

Teo Chin Lai was sentenced to three years' jail for causing grievous hurt.
Teo Chin Lai was sentenced to three years' jail for causing grievous hurt. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - An elderly security guard who reprimanded a drunken man for urinating behind a door at a Bukit Panjang shopping centre was punched to the ground, and died of his injuries almost six weeks later.

On Wednesday (Aug 24), 53-year-old hawker centre food packer Teo Chin Lai was jailed for three years after being convicted of causing grievous hurt.

He hit Mr Chew Choo Chian, 74, in the upper body at Block 440, Fajar Road, on Nov 18, 2014, causing him to fall backwards. He died from blunt force trauma to the cervical spine on Dec 28 the same year.

Teo, who had claimed trial, packs food at an industrial park hawker centre at an economical rice stall.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Si En had sought a sentence of three to 3½ years' jail to be imposed, saying the key operative sentencing principles in this case were retribution and deterrence.

She said Teo had assaulted an innocent security guard in the course of his duty. Not only did Teo grab Mr Chew's shirt and push him out of the shopping mall, he went on to throw a punch with significant force at the old and vulnerable security guard, who was on night shift at the time.

She said Teo was the sole aggressor and cause of Mr Chew's death.

Pleading for a chance, Teo, who was unrepresented, said in mitigation that he had too many drinks that night and did not know that the deceased was working there.

He said he saw the "uncle" fall and wanted to save him.

"I do not wish for this to happen to him. I would like to apologise and say sorry to the uncle now, and also urge you to be lenient to me because of my age," he told the court. He asked for a fine.

District Judge Tan Jen Tse said it was totally appropriate for a a substantial sentence to be passed due to the seriousness of the offence.

"I agree that there are aggravating factors in the case," he said.

Teo successfully applied for his sentence to be deferred to Aug 31. His $30,000 bail has been extended and he has to call the investigation officer every two days.

The maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years' jail, a fine or caning.