Life imprisonment for rag-and-bone man who murdered coffee shop helper

Toh Sia Guan (in red) as seen on July 22, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 67-year-old rag-and-bone man was sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday (March 2) for murdering a coffee shop assistant in 2016.

Toh Sia Guan was found guilty by the High Court last month of causing the death of 52-year-old Goh Eng Thiam by stabbing him with a knife.

The incident happened on the morning of July 9, 2016.

Toh had stopped his bicycle outside the coffee shop along Lorong 23 Geylang, where Mr Goh was having breakfast.

When Toh asked if Mr Goh was selling Chinese medicine, the coffee shop assistant swore at him and retorted along the lines of "Do I look like a drug peddler?".

Both men then got into a fight, before Toh left for a nearby budget shop where he bought a pair of slippers and a knife.

He returned and charged at Mr Goh, which sparked another fight.

Mr Goh was stabbed in multiple places on his upper body, including his right upper arm. He also suffered injuries to his face and fingers.

After trading blows with Mr Goh for about two minutes, Toh fled the scene.

Court documents state that Mr Goh laid down on the road and rested his head on the kerb. He was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

An autopsy report showed that Mr Goh bled to death from the stab wound to his right upper arm; the knife had cut across a major blood vessel.

Toh was arrested at Labrador Park MRT station 12 days later.

On Aug 6 last year, he went on trial in the High Court.

Justice Aedit Abdullah found Toh guilty of murder on Feb 12 this year.

The judge noted that there was only circumstantial evidence to show Toh had inflicted the fatal injury, and his state of mind, as there was no witness to the actual stabbing or any other evidence that directly implicated him.

However, he concluded that there was an "irresistible inference" that the fatal injury was caused intentionally by Toh.

On Monday, Justice Aedit sentenced him to life imprisonment, noting that the circumstances of the case did not warrant capital punishment.

When Toh asked the judge if he was allowed to appeal, Justice Aedit replied affirmatively and said that he could speak to his lawyer about this.

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