SINGAPORE - After stabbing his roommate five times during an argument, a cleaner left their Bedok Reservoir flat without checking on him but contacted mutual friends, asking them to call the victim.
The next morning, Myanmar national Naing Lin returned to the flat with a friend, saw the victim motionless on the floor through the window, and decided to surrender himself to the police.
On Thursday, Naing Lin, 51, was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was convicted of murder for fatally stabbing compatriot Myo Kyaw Thu, 49, in their flat at about 6pm on April 2, 2021.
The charge of murder with the intention to cause fatal injury carries the death sentence, or life imprisonment and caning.
Prosecutors did not object to the life sentence.
Citing the legal test for when the death penalty is justified, Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia said the accused did not exhibit viciousness or a blatant disregard for human life in committing the offence.
Justice Valerie Thean agreed that the unique circumstances of the case did not warrant the death penalty.
Naing Lin cannot be caned as he is older than 50.
The court heard that Mr Myo Kyaw Thu, who last worked in Singapore as a senior technician, was in Singapore on a short-term visit pass and shared a room with Naing Lin.
On April 2, 2021, Naing Lin went drinking with some friends after work.
When he returned home, he got into an argument with Mr Myo Kyaw Thu over the latter's spending habits.
Naing Lin told him that it was shameful that he borrowed money from others despite being an engineer.
Upset, the victim replied that he would not ask the accused for money in future.
Naing Lin then went to the kitchen and took out a knife as he wanted to fry some eggs and onions.
Still holding the knife, he went back to the room to get his phone.
But when Mr Myo Kyaw Thu saw him with the knife, he uttered an expletive.
Naing Lin then slashed the victim's face and stabbed him four times in the chest and abdomen and once in the left arm.
As Mr Myo Kyaw Thu lay bleeding on his bed, Naing Lin left the flat.
He made six phone calls to a female friend, telling her that he was waiting for the police to arrest him, and asked her to call the victim.
The next morning, he asked another friend to call the victim.
Naing Lin himself also called and texted the victim, but received no response.
He then contacted other flatmates, who said they did not see the victim in the morning.
He eventually asked a friend to go with him to check on Mr Myo Kyaw Thu.
Seeing the victim bloodied and motionless through the window, they left without entering the flat and agreed that Naing Lin should surrender himself.
Defence counsel Sanjiv Rajan said that Naing Lin's voluntary surrender to the police showed that he was remorseful.
The lawyer highlighted that in a police statement recorded one day after his surrender, Naing Lin said: "I should have called for the ambulance, then my friend would not have died. In my moment of drunk state (sic) and confusion, I left the house and drove away. I am very sad about what happened."