Jail term upped for man who assaulted wife after returning home drunk

SINGAPORE - Deterrence remains the key sentencing principle in cases of domestic violence, said an appeal judge, as he upped the prison term of a 34-year-old man who assaulted his wife after returning home drunk.

Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang imposed five weeks' jail on Satesh Navarlan after allowing an appeal by the prosecution for a harsher sentence.

Satesh was originally sentenced by a district court to a short detention order of 14 days and a day reporting order of nine months.

In the early morning of Feb 1, 2018, his wife and five-year-old daughter were in the bedroom when he returned home in an intoxicated state.

He grabbed the blanket away from his wife, grabbed her right leg and bit it.

About 10 minutes later, when she asked him to wash up, he responded by rolling around on the bed.

Worried for their daughter, his wife took the girl out to the living room.

He followed them out and a heated argument broke out.

Satesh threw several punches at his wife, who tried unsuccessfully to block the blows with an umbrella.

He then wrested the umbrella away and hit her with it, while sarcastically telling her: "This is how it works!"

Satesh's wife fled the flat with her daughter after he threw her mobile phone on the floor when she tried to call the police.

Since then, she has been staying at a community shelter, the court heard.

Satesh pleaded guilty to one charge of contravening a Personal Protection Order (PPO) and one charge of causing hurt to his wife. She had taken out the PPO in 2014 to restrain him from using violence on her.

A district judge imposed a day reporting order to ensure that Satesh would follow through with his promise to deal with his drinking problem and a short detention order for deterrent effect.

However, prosecutors filed an appeal, arguing that the district judge had given too much weight to rehabilitation when deterrence should be the dominant principle in this case.

In a judgment released on Wednesday (May 8), Justice Tay agreed with the prosecution.

Satesh's relentless assault greatly affected his wife's and young daughter's sense of security and peace of mind, he said.

He noted that Satesh continued to drink excessively even after his wife took out a PPO against him for pushing her while he was in an intoxicated state.

Justice Tay said Satesh, who has been jailed twice for drink-driving, lacked rehabilitative prospects and his decision to enrol with Alcoholics Anonymous appeared to be a "tactical move" for his mitigation plea.

Noting that community-based sentences were intended to target regulatory offences and offences involving younger perpetrators and people with minor mental conditions, he said the present offences did not fall under such categories.