Significance of the case

File photo of the Court of Appeal.
File photo of the Court of Appeal. ST PHOTO: LANCE LEE

Jabing Kho's case is a landmark decision in which a rare five-judge Court of Appeal decided, three to two, that the convicted murderer will hang.

It is the first murder case to come before the apex court since laws kicked in giving judges the option of imposing life imprisonment on those who commit murder without the intention to cause death. The apex court had to decide when the death penalty was warranted when it is not mandatory.

All five judges agreed that capital punishment would be appropriate when the offender had "acted in a way which exhibits viciousness or a blatant disregard for human life". But the court was divided on whether Kho deserved to be hanged.

Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang and Justice Chan Seng Onn said the "sheer savagery" Kho displayed in continuing to strike Mr Cao Ruyin even after he was floored, justified the death penalty.

However, the dissenting judges, Justices Woo Bih Li and Lee Seiu Kin, said there was not enough evidence to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Kho had struck Mr Cao three or more times, or that he had used such force that it caused most of the 14 fractures on the victim's skull.

Selina Lum

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'Significance of the case'. Print Edition | Subscribe