Jail for two assailants in Orchard Towers brawl which left one man dead

Police officers investigating the crime scene at Orchard Towers on July 2, 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A dispute between two groups of people caught in congestion at the entrance of an Orchard Towers nightspot led to a fatal brawl and a man, who did not belong to either group, dead following a knife attack just minutes later.

Mr Satheesh Noel Gobidass, 31, was killed after he confronted one of the men involved in the dispute who, along with his friends, attacked the victim at around 6.30am on July 2 last year.

A district court heard that three of the assailants - Natalie Siow Yu Zhen, 23, well as Joel Tan Yun Sheng and Ang Da Yuan, both 26 - did not use any weapons.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Feng Qian said the fourth assailant, Tan Sen Yang, 28, used a knife to attack Mr Satheesh, who died of a stab wound to his neck about an hour later.

On Wednesday (March 4), office administrator Joel Tan and hotel receptionist Ang Da Yuan pleaded guilty to an assault charge.

Ang also admitted to being in the company of Tan Sen Yang who had a kerambit knife in his possession on the day of the incident. The weapon is a curved knife resembling a claw.

Joel Tan also faced a similar charge but it was taken into consideration during sentencing.

He was sentenced on Wednesday to four weeks jail while Ang was given eight months' jail and six strokes of the cane. They were the first two people linked to the case to be dealt with in court.

The four assailants and three other men - Tan Hong Sheng, Loo Boon Chong and Chan Jia Xing - were charged with Mr Satheesh's murder last year.

Joel Tan, Ang and Siow later had their murder charges reduced to that of assault. Tan Hong Sheng, 22, as well as Loo and Chan, both 26, had their respective murder charges reduced on July 11 last year to that of consorting with a person carrying an offensive weapon in a public place.

They were allegedly in the company of Tan Sen Yang, who had a foldable kerambit knife in his possession at Orchard Towers that morning. Tan Sen Yang is the only one still facing a murder charge. The cases involving him, Loo, Chan, Siow and Tan Hong Sheng are still pending.

The court heard that Joel Tan, Ang and their group had gone to the Naughty Girl Club on the second floor of Orchard Towers and were about to leave at around 6.20am when they ran into another group walking in.

DPP Ang said: "There was therefore some congestion at the doorway. As Joel stepped out with the rest of his group, he heard an exchange of terse and vulgar words between (Tan Sen Yang) and persons from the other group. Secret society slogans were exchanged between the accused persons' group and the other group."

The club's security officers , including Mr B. Barathkrishnan, 41, stepped in to intervene.

Other people, including Mr Satheesh and a man identified as Mr Muhammad Fairus Muhammad Ali, 30, also began gathering near the entrance.

The DPP said that Tan Sen Yang then took out his kerambit knife and swung it around, slashing Mr Barathkrishnan's finger and Mr Fairus' face.

DPP Ang added: "Meanwhile, Natalie dashed towards the persons at the doorway, and jumped at people. She also flipped a table positioned near the club entrance onto the floor. She had to be repeatedly pulled back by persons from the accused persons' group, including Joel."

After some scuffling, someone shouted "police" and Joel Tan's group took a lift to the ground floor. Mr Satheesh was alone when he took an escalator to the ground floor and confronted Ang.

A scuffle broke out between the two men. The court heard that Joel Tan, Tan Sen Yang and Siow joined in the scuffle.

The DPP said: "(Tan Sen Yang) then swung the blade of his kerambit knife at the region of the victim's lower jaw and neck in a punching motion with his right hand, and slashed him a few times. Immediately after that, Joel noticed a lot of blood on the victim's face."

Joel Tan then punched the back of Mr Satheesh's head before pulling Siow back. Tan Sen Yang was also pulled away by other members of his own group. Ang, however, continued punching Mr Satheesh's face even after the victim, who was older, retreated backwards.

DPP Ang added that the four assailants and their group left the shopping mall soon after. Mr Satheesh collapsed face-first onto the floor and was pronounced dead at Tan Tock Seng Hospital at around 7.30am.

Joel Tan was represented by lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation.

In their mitigation plea, the lawyers stated: "Joel was the one who had coordinated the collective surrender of some of the co-accused persons and Joel was also the one who had contacted the police."

Ang was represented by a team from Kertar & Sandhu law firm. They were lawyers Kertar Singh, Anil Singh Sandhu and Mohamed Arshad.

They stated in their mitigation plea: "Ang is deeply remorseful and truly regrets the events on the fateful day."

For being in Tan Sen Yang's company when he was in possession of a weapon, Ang could have been jailed for up to three years with at least six strokes of the cane.

Those convicted of assault can be sentenced to up to two years' jail and fined up to $5,000.

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