Three teens plead guilty to brutal attack

Man, 39, suffered brain damage and remains unable to communicate verbally and physically

In the early hours of March 6 this year, three teenagers punched and kicked a 39-year-old man repeatedly. One of them struck the victim on the head with an empty bottle, shattering it. The brutal attack left him bedridden and with brain damage.

Yesterday, Muhammad Syazwandi Abdullah, 16, Mohammad Zaidi Zahad, 17, and Mohammad Noor Helmi Mohammed Herman, 19, all pleaded guilty to grievously hurting Mr See Chien Hwa, whose occupation is not known.

The court heard that at about 3.30am that day, the trio, together with another friend, Ahmad Sholihin Mosa, 23, went to the 7-Eleven store at Block 201E Tampines Street 23. Mr See tapped Helmi on the shoulder to ask for cigarettes but Helmi said he had none and Mr See went into the store to buy a drink.

When he came out, Mr See slapped Helmi on the back. Helmi asked him why but Mr See did not reply. He went to sit on a bench and started shouting at the group.

Unhappy that he had shouted at them, Helmi took 10 tablets of nitrazepam, used to treat anxiety and insomnia. He then picked up an empty glass bottle and asked his friends if they wanted to assault Mr See. They went up to the victim.

Helmi swung the bottle at Mr See's head, then kicked his upper body, causing him to collapse.

Syazwandi, Zaidi and Sholihin joined in and Mr See was kicked and punched in the face, abdomen, groin and knee repeatedly.

They left him bleeding on the ground, but Helmi returned to punch him repeatedly. A passer-by later saw Mr See on the ground, covered in blood with glass fragments around him, and called the police.

The court heard that Mr See suffered brain damage and remains unable to respond to verbal instructions. He is incapable of communicating verbally and physically.

A medical report in April said doctors are unable to guarantee his recovery. He was discharged from hospital last month, and has since been at a community hospital.

While he noted the ages of the convicted trio, Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Chua said a probation sentence would be "wholly inappropriate", given the severity of the offence they committed.

He asked for Syazwandi and Zaidi, who also pleaded guilty to a charge of theft, to be sent to the Reformative Training Centre (RTC). DPP Chua said the prosecution intends to press for "a severe custodial sentence, with caning" for Helmi.

District Judge Mathew Joseph said the assault was "particularly vicious and heinous", and it was one of the worst he had heard. He called for an RTC suitability report for Zaidi and Syazwandi, who will be sentenced in three weeks. Sholihin's case will be heard in court today.

Helmi will be sentenced in two weeks. He also pleaded guilty to charges of drug use, theft, committing a rash act, criminal intimidation and arming himself with a dangerous weapon.The maximum penalty for causing grievous hurt is 10 years' jail, with fine and caning.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'Three teens plead guilty to brutal attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe