Mentally ill woman tormented parents with her demands
Father jailed for killing her out of fear she was going to harm him. He is released after sentence is backdated
When he arrived to take his daughter home from her aunt's place in 2018, she scolded him for being late and a lousy parent.
Tan Tian Chye apologised, as he had done countless times beore when Ms Desiree Tan Jiaping, 35, directed her displeasure at her parents.
Ms Tan, who had a mental disorder, continued to berate her father during lunch at a nearby mall. At one point, she clenched her fork tightly and told him she felt like killing him with it.
He apologised profusely, but when they got back to their Bedok South flat, he armed himself with a metal pole out of fear that she might harm him.
When he saw her pointing a knife at him in the kitchen, Tan hit her with the pole until she fell. He then strangled her by pressing down on her neck with a piece of cloth.
He called the police, who found Ms Tan lying on the kitchen floor with a pool of blood near her head. She was pronounced dead at the scene at about 4.15pm on Nov 19 that year.
Tan, 66, was yesterday jailed for two years and nine months after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
With his sentence backdated to Nov 20, 2018, when he was remanded, and the usual one-third remission for good behaviour, the ex- Grab driver was released from prison yesterday.
In sentencing Tan, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng said the tragic case served as a stark reminder of the importance of mental health issues and the need for families to stay alert to them.
She said that Tan was by all accounts a selfless and loving father. But he was found to have had significant caregiver stress and succumbed to a major depressive episode that substantially impaired his responsibility for his acts in killing his daughter.
Ms Tan, who was unemployed, was assessed to have panic attacks with agoraphobia - a condition that made her anxious in unfamiliar situations - and "hypochondriacal preoccupations" in 2012 after she fainted at an MRT station.
She became anxious about leaving the flat and relied more and more on her parents and her boyfriend, who moved in with them.
Ms Tan also became increasingly demanding, making her parents repeatedly clean items that she felt were dirty and constantly scolding them.
To pacify her, the couple gave in to her whims, apologising and bowing before her as she demanded. Once, Tan even slapped his wife to appease her.
He suffered so much stress from taking care of Ms Tan that he felt he and his wife were on the verge of suicide.
Tan often took time off to take her out to help her overcome her anxieties. He also bought a second-hand car for her boyfriend to take her out.
In 2017, she asked her parents for money so she could apply for a Build-To-Order flat with her boyfriend.
She made them ask her younger brother to return $50,000 they had spent on his education and also make her the sole beneficiary of their Central Provident Fund monies.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Bhajanvir Singh told the court: "The deceased became more insistent and abusive, and blamed the accused and his wife for not loving her and not providing enough for her."
MANUALLY FAN SMOKE AWAY
In mid-2018, she became unhappy about the smell of cigarette smoke in the flat and demanded that her parents confront the neighbours. She also made them fan the smoke away with pieces of cardboard.
On Oct 22, Ms Tan was diagnosed with an unspecified anxiety disorder, but she refused medication out of fear that she would become dependent on it.
She moved to her aunt's place but continued badgering her parents for money, even asking Tan to drive longer hours.
In their written submissions, DPP Singh and DPP Andrew Low said that Ms Tan's behaviour placed a tremendous strain on her parents. Tan often had to handle her and had trouble sleeping. He lost about 6kg.
Asking for three years' jail, the DPPs said that while the case deserved some sympathy, Tan's use of the metal pole was an aggravating factor.
But Justice Hoo agreed with defence lawyer Derek Kang that Tan's use of the pole was in response to his daughter's threat and the knife in her hand.
Stressing the need to improve access to mental health services, she said it was unfortunate the Tans did not seek help nor were they given much help.
She urged Tan to comply with his treatment plan and hoped that his family had found closure.
In tears as he thanked the judge, the prosecutors, his lawyers and all involved, Tan said: "May God bless all of you."
For culpable homicide not amounting to murder, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and/or fined.
He cannot be caned as he is above 50.