Myanmar nurse jailed 1 year for attack on patient

Former IMH staff member hit victim who was restrained to bed, causing rib fractures

A nurse from Myanmar was sentenced to a year's jail yesterday for attacking a defenceless patient 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 has schizophrenia.

Thu was convicted of punching and kicking him multiple times, causing two rib fractures, on Feb 17 last year.

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

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

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

Not done, Thu kicked his leg and pinned him down, then proceeded to hit him multiple times, including about 10 times in his left rib area.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ma Hanfeng said Mr Kong did not fight back the whole time 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 had inflicted them on himself.

Mr Kong was referred to Alexandra Hospital, where he was found to have various injuries and possible fractures on two left ribs which were confirmed by X-ray.

DPP Ma sought at least 12 months in 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 was restrained to the bed, would have been defenceless against the assault. There was clearly no need for Thu to cause hurt to the victim and also no good reason to excuse the violent attack. His conduct afterwards also showed a lack of remorse, he said.

District Judge Luke Tan agreed, saying the aggravating features of this case called for a sentence that was sufficiently severe to act as a deterrent.

Defence 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2016, with the headline 'Myanmar nurse jailed 1 year for attack on patient'. Print Edition | Subscribe