Accused 'looked lost' on the day that dad was killed

Left: Tan, who faces a charge of culpable homicide, is said to have put his father in a headlock and chokehold over an argument last year. The latter died an hour after being taken to hospital. Above: Tan with his father in happier times.
Tan, who faces a charge of culpable homicide, is said to have put his father in a headlock and chokehold over an argument last year. The latter died an hour after being taken to hospital.PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW, FACEBOOK PAGE OF MARK TAN
Left: Tan, who faces a charge of culpable homicide, is said to have put his father in a headlock and chokehold over an argument last year. The latter died an hour after being taken to hospital. Above: Tan with his father in happier times.
Tan with his father in happier times.PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW, FACEBOOK PAGE OF MARK TAN

Aunt recounts what happened that day, says the two men had a good relationship

A businessman accused of killing his father looked "bewildered and lost" when his aunt saw him shortly after the alleged incident, a court heard yesterday.

Mark Tan Peng Liat, 30, is said to have put Mr Tan Kok Keng, 67, in a headlock and a chokehold over an argument.

Mr Tan died an hour after he was taken to hospital on Feb 10 last year.

Originally accused of murder, Tan's charge was amended to culpable homicide not amounting to murder last October. His bail was set at $50,000.

At the start of his trial yesterday, Tan's paternal aunt, Madam Tan Hoon Choo, 72 - who lives near his West Coast Rise semi-detached house - said the father and son had a "very good relationship".

The pair lived together with their maid, Ms Sumarti Dwi Ambarwati. Tan's mother had been divorced from his father for more than a decade.

Tan's lawyer, Mr Derek Kang, said previously that the incident arose after a quarrel.

The Straits Times understands the accused's position is that Mr Tan's death was "accidental", and that Tan was trying to restrain his father who had become violent. The late Mr Tan also suffered from hypertensive heart disease, which was discovered only during the autopsy.

Madam Tan told the court that Ms Sumarti had rushed to her house at about 5.40pm that day and collapsed at her doorstep, crying and "hysterical". "She said: 'Auntie, please help, please help. Mark and Sir are fighting'," said Madam Tan. "I've never seen her in this state. (Their household has) never had any fights, and this was the first time."

When she arrived at her younger brother's house, her nephew was standing outside, his face "pale". He also looked "very bewildered and lost", she added.

There would usually be a "big smile on his face" and "warm address" from the younger Tan. She gave him a hug that day but they did not speak.

Madam Tan found her brother lying on the floor in the master bedroom and rushed to him. He was unresponsive. Crying, she asked her nephew to call an ambulance.

About an hour after Mr Tan was taken to National University Hospital, he was pronounced dead. The younger Tan, who was found to have some superficial abrasions, was arrested that day.

Dressed in a long-sleeved white shirt, Tan closed his eyes when his aunt recounted his relationship with his late father yesterday.

"My brother was very fond of his son," said Madam Tan. "He was very proud of him."

The court heard that Mr Tan, a taekwon-do black belt holder who exercised regularly, rarely complained about his son. He was pleased with him, although he used to discipline the boy over his studies when he was young.

Asked by Mr Kang if Tan was a son who tried not to hurt his father's feelings or anger him, much less harm him physically, Madam Tan agreed. She added that her brother was "extremely sensitive" about money matters.

Tan was also charged with possessing 15 airsoft guns without a licence, to which he intends to plead guilty.

If found guilty of culpable homicide, Tan could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined or caned, or receive any combined punishment. The maximum penalty for the other charge is a $5,000 fine and three years' jail.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2016, with the headline 'Accused 'looked lost' on the day that dad was killed'. Print Edition | Subscribe