Mentally ill man jailed 2 years for killing wife has been in IMH since prison release

Police officers leading Kong Peng Yee away from the scene of the crime on March 13, 2016.
Police officers leading Kong Peng Yee away from the scene of the crime on March 13, 2016. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A retired aircraft technician has spent the last three months at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) as a voluntary patient after serving a two-year prison term for killing his wife of 36 years during a psychotic episode.

But 69-year-old Kong Peng Yee is now facing an appeal that may see him behind bars again.

Although his psychiatric condition is in remission with medication, Kong requires long-term psychiatric follow-up and close monitoring, according to an IMH report.

His two daughters, who were "caught unawares" by the unexpectedly short sentence, were "not ready" to have him stay with them, the three-judge Court of Appeal heard on Monday (Jan 22), during an appeal by prosecutors for a longer sentence.

Kong's sentence - for slashing Madam Wong Chik Yeok, 63, first using a knife and then a chopper, at their Sengkang home on March 13, 2016 - was the shortest ever meted out for intentional culpable homicide here.

Prosecutors had sought nine years' jail but on Oct 16 last year, Kong was given two years' jail by the High Court after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide.

As the prison term was backdated to the date of his arrest, he was released from jail on the same day, given the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.

The prosecutors had indicated in the High Court that same day that they would be filing an appeal.

Commenting on the family's current arrangement, Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang noted that it was a very difficult situation.

"If my dad had done something against my mother, I will still probably be a bit wary," said the judge. This was especially if there were children at home and the triggers for psychosis are not known, he added.

However, he pointed out that there was nothing to stop Kong if he wanted to leave IMH.

The court, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, stressed that the key consideration in determining the sentence in this case was not deterrence but the prevention of any further crime and the protection of the public.

The court has asked for further psychiatric evidence before delivering its judgment, which is expected to guide sentencing in future cases involving offenders with mental disorders.

The court wanted to know whether there was a risk of relapse if Kong were to stop taking his medication; whether his prospect of recovery would be enhanced by a stay in a structured environment such as the prison to ensure he takes his medication; and whether it was possible to predict how long he has to continue taking medication.

Kong promised the court that he would continue to stay in IMH pending the outcome.

In 2016, he started having delusions that his family was trying to harm him.

On the afternoon of March 13, 2016, he woke from a nap, took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed Madam Wong until she was dead.

He then told his sister to call the police and also wrote on a piece of paper how his assets should be distributed.

An autopsy noted 189 injuries, including knife wounds and bruises, on Madam Wong.