NUS suspends student who tried to strangle ex-girlfriend

Dentistry student Yin Zi Qin is facing ongoing disciplinary proceedings by the National University of Singapore. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Dentistry student Yin Zi Qin is facing ongoing disciplinary proceedings by the National University of Singapore. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A National University of Singapore (NUS) dentistry student, who tried to strangle his former girlfriend when she refused to resume their relationship, is facing ongoing disciplinary proceedings by the university.

He is currently suspended and is not allowed on campus, NUS said in a Facebook post yesterday. The university did not say when he was suspended.

The statement from NUS comes after the student, Yin Zi Qin, 23, was handed community-based sentences last Friday by the court after pleading guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt, with another charge of criminal trespass taken into consideration.

Community-based sentences are non-jail sentences introduced in 2010 that give the courts more options in sentencing offenders for minor offences, so that the punishment fits the offence better.

Offenders will retain no criminal records for the offence if the sentence is successfully completed.

Yin was given a short detention order for 12 days, and a day reporting order for five months, whereby offenders have to report to a centre for monitoring and counselling as well as undergo rehabilitation.

He was also given an order to complete 80 hours of community service over a year.

Following this, two petitions began circulating online, with one calling for a harsher sentence for the student and another calling for NUS to expel the student.

As of last night, the first petition had garnered more than 11,000 signatures, while the other had more than 13,000 signatures.

In its post, NUS said it does not have the jurisdiction to investigate matters beyond the university, noting that the incident occurred off-campus.

"In this particular incident, NUS had to wait for the completion of court proceedings to gather the facts of the case, before initiating the disciplinary process," said the university, adding that it is proceeding with the disciplinary matter as quickly as it can.

NUS also said it "stands strongly against any form of misconduct", adding that students who have breached NUS statutes and regulations face severe sanctions, including suspension and expulsion.

The statement added: "We have also very recently discovered that the victim in this case, who was not an NUS student at the time of the incident, is now a member of our community. With this new knowledge, a strict no-contact order has been issued to ensure the safety of the victim."

NUS added that the victim's school is in contact with the victim, and has extended support and assistance to her. The school is working closely with the NUS Victim Care Unit.

According to court documents, Yin was in his second year of a dental course at NUS and had dated the 21-year-old victim for almost two years at the time of the offence.

In May last year, the victim broke up with Yin over WhatsApp, and he later entered her home with an access card she had previously given him.

She returned home to meet him, and they entered her bedroom together by climbing in through her window from an adjacent showroom unit.

Yin pleaded with her not to end their relationship, but she refused. He then hit his own head against the wall and remained silent for a while.

Yin then said he was upset, and later suddenly placed his hands on the victim's neck and tried to strangle her.

After she struggled, he released his grip and pressed his thumb against her eye, causing it to bleed.

She later blacked out.

Her vision was temporarily impaired, with a prolonged eye infection that took five months to resolve.

Last August, the victim reported that she did not suffer any permanent injuries, apart from a few scars on her neck.

In his judgment, District Judge Marvin Bay noted that the victim suffered a degree of psychological harm from the incident, which she said caused her to suffer from insomnia and nightmares of Yin breaking into her house or assaulting her.

But the district judge said he was satisfied that Yin was not at high risk of re-offending.

He added that while it was plain to him that probation would not be appropriate, Yin's relative youth, rehabilitative prospects and lack of previous convictions made community based-sentences a viable option, rather than a conventional jail sentence.

For voluntarily causing hurt, Yin could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2020, with the headline NUS suspends student who tried to strangle ex-girlfriend. Subscribe