Son claims father attacked him in money row West Coast death

Businessman Mark Tan said he had only wanted to subdue his father who was the assailant.
Businessman Mark Tan said he had only wanted to subdue his father who was the assailant.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A businessman on trial for the manslaughter of his father during a fight told a court yesterday that he had been attacked by his dad in a row over money.

Mark Tan Peng Liat, 30, said his father had accused him of stealing his money - and the son admitted to the court that he had been making withdrawals of up to $5,000 from a joint family account.

Mr Tan Kok Keng, 67 - who had a black belt in taekwondo - died on Feb 10 last year after his son applied a headlock and a chokehold around his neck. Although Mark Tan did not dispute these actions, he claimed he did not know his actions were likely to cause his father's death. He was also trying to subdue his father, who was the assailant, he said.

He was first charged with murder, but the charge was later reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Yesterday, Tan took the stand to begin his defence and recounted the events. While driving his car at around 3pm on Feb 10 last year, Tan got a call from his father, who accused him of stealing money.

Tan went home to find him enraged in the master bedroom of their house in West Coast Rise. His father lunged towards him and threw a punch, but Tan blocked it.

The father walked backwards towards the bathroom, while trying to punch, kick and elbow him.

Inside the slippery bathroom, things got "chaotic", Tan said. His spectacles flew off and he tried to get a grip on his topless father to subdue him, even holding on to his head at one point. Both men then fell to the floor and the son applied a headlock to his father.

When things appeared to have calmed down, Tan said he left the bathroom.

But his father got up and tried to attack him inside the master bedroom. Tan wrapped his right arm around his father's neck from behind. He also pressed his left hand on his father's upper chest.

Tan said he was afraid his father would take the fight out of the bedroom as he kept swords around the house. The two men fell, with his father on top of him, Tan said.

Shortly after, Tan went to get his spectacles in the toilet and then went out of the house.

On his way out, he met his aunt who lived nearby. Tan told her: "I think he's dead."

He called an ambulance, then went to the bedroom where he saw his father lying motionless.

Tan tried to resuscitate him while waiting for paramedics.

Asked by his lawyer Derek Kang if he meant to harm to his father, Tan said: "I didn't even want to hurt his feelings. I just wanted to stop him."

If convicted of manslaughter, Tan faces up to 10 years in jail, a fine, caning, or any combined punishment.

The trial continues today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Son claims father attacked him in money row West Coast death'. Print Edition | Subscribe