Woman jailed for one year over fatal stabbing of husband

27-year-old mother is convicted of causing grievous hurt under grave provocation

A Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) senior human resource executive originally charged with killing her husband was sentenced to one year's jail yesterday for causing grievous hurt on grave and sudden provocation.

Vivien Teoh Yi Wen's sentence was backdated to her remand on Sept 1 last year, which means the 27-year-old mother of one could be released.

She admitted to the amended charge of fatally stabbing her husband, Mr Gordon Yeo Han Tong, 33, in the chest with a knife at their flat in Senja Road in August last year.

Court documents say he had physically assaulted her and threatened to kill her and their daughter, as their marriage had broken down .

When it was all over, Mr Yeo's parents appeared upset. His 60-year-old mother wept, calling the one-year sentence "unfair'' and accusing Teoh's family members, who were speaking to her briefly through the door of the holding area, of being "inhumane''.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Eugene Lee and Krystle Chiang said that on Aug 30 last year, Teoh had locked herself in the master bedroom with her 14-month-old daughter, and refused to let her husband in.

The couple were sleeping in different rooms and she was making preparations for divorce.

When she emerged later to get milk for the baby, her husband confronted her in the kitchen and asked why she had locked the door. He tried to block her path but she managed to get free and return to the room.

He followed her and pushed his way in, but they agreed to talk outside so as not to disturb the child.

Suspecting his wife of cheating on him, Mr Yeo snatched her phone to read the messages. He pinned her down and choked her while she swung her arms to get him to stop.

When he released her but refused to return the phone, Teoh kicked at him. He wrapped his arm around her neck in a chokehold while they fought over the phone, ending up in the kitchen toilet, where he pushed her head against the mirror.

He badgered her for her passcode, which she eventually gave and he started to read through her messages.

Teoh then went to get her child, who was crying. Carrying the baby into the kitchen, she went to the service yard, closed the folding doors and shouted: "Help, my husband is trying to kill me!"

Mr Yeo kicked the door open, causing the baby to fall and hit her head. He had a knife and ordered his wife to return to the master bedroom.

There, he started going through her phone and told her she had one last chance to confess.

Teoh admitted that she had been having an affair. Angered, he said he would kill her, their daughter and himself.

Subsequently, Teoh went to the kitchen to get ice for the child. She grabbed a knife and brandished it at her husband who told her to drop it. She refused and retreated to the master bedroom.

Mr Yeo also got a knife and went to the room. Husband and wife circled each other and when he kept on advancing, she swung her knife wildly at him, inflicting wounds including one that penetrated his heart.

Teoh then called her mother before leaving the flat with her daughter.

Mr Goh, who had 11 stab wounds on his torso and interscapular region, was pronounced dead at 1.19am by paramedics.

Teoh's lawyer Yusfiyanto Yatiman said his client was under an acute stress reaction and adjustment disorder at the time. He said she had been under emotional abuse from her husband for an extended period of time and that his sexual behaviour was perverse.

Calling it a sad and tragic case, District Judge Low Wee Ping said he hoped Teoh could find some solace and closure, to look after and bring up her daughter. Teoh, who was calm, responded several times with: "Thank you, Your Honour ."

The judge told her: "You will find that in time, this will come to pass, although, of course, it will be difficult, but I would wish you to look forward.''

Teoh could have been jailed for up to six years and/or fined up to $10,000 for the offence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Woman jailed for one year over fatal stabbing of husband'. Print Edition | Subscribe