Stuntman's death: Restaurant server convicted

A restaurant server who delivered a punch that led to a stuntman's death near Boat Quay in 2015 was convicted of causing grievous hurt to his victim yesterday.

District Judge Tan Jen Tse found Muhammad Khalis Ramlee guilty of committing the offence following a four-day trial in August.

He was originally accused of murder, a capital charge, but it was later reduced to one of assault.

Delivering his verdict, Judge Tan said Khalis, now 25, punched Mr John Denley Nelson in the head on Dec 24, 2015. It caused the 30-year-old American, who worked at Universal Studios Singapore, to fall, hitting his head on the road as he did.

He died of his head injuries in hospital about a week later.

Before this fatal attack, Khalis and 14 others had been involved in brawls around Boat Quay. Nearly all have been dealt with in court. Like Khalis, most had links to secret societies.

The court heard that Khalis and his friends had gone to the Beer Inn in Circular Road for a drinking session at about midnight that Christmas Eve. The rampage started outside the watering hole when two among the group got into a dispute. The duo started to shout and push each other as they walked on the road.

Khalis and some of his friends following closely behind tried to intervene but failed.

Two strangers observing the altercation from afar were confronted by a member of Khalis' group. The others soon came forward and attacked the onlookers.

At about 3am, two of Khalis' friends got into a fresh dispute with a woman in Circular Road.

When Mr Nelson, who was not involved in the earlier scuffles, tried to mediate, Khalis came forward and punched him.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Yi Ling said in her submissions: "(An eyewitness) described (the blow) as a lunging punch, where the accused had taken two very big steps with full force and full weight behind the punch."

Khalis will be sentenced on Nov 17. For causing grievous hurt, he can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2017, with the headline 'Stuntman's death: Restaurant server convicted'. Print Edition | Subscribe