Mother of man in fatal stabbing seeking over $5,000 a month from his killer

This article is more than 12 months old

The High Court has resumed hearing a case in which a mother is seeking more than $5,000 a month in damages and losses from an in-law who is now in jail for fatally stabbing her son.

Madam Tham Poh Kwai, 64, said she was dependent on her son, Mr Spencer Tuppani, 39, who was stabbed in the chest outside a Telok Ayer Street coffee shop in July 2017 by his father-in-law, Tan Nam Seng.

Tan, 72, was jailed for 8½ years last month after pleading guilty to culpable homicide. During his trial, the court heard that Tan, who was suffering from major depressive disorder, was upset with how Mr Tuppani had treated his daughter, Shyller.

He also believed Mr Tuppani had cheated him of his shipping business.

Madam Tham is seeking at least $5,050 a month, an amount that court documents said included the monthly maintenance that Mr Tuppani used to give her and her monthly rent since her accommodation was provided for by her son.

In her statement of claim filed last November, Madam Tham alleged that Tan had "wrongfully, wilfully and intentionally assaulted, attacked and stabbed" Mr Tuppani, resulting in his death.

An interlocutory judgment was initially entered in December for Tan to pay the damages to Madam Tham, as he did not enter an appearance by then.

However, Tan applied to set aside this judgment and enter his defence, arguing then that he was in remand when the papers were served on him.

He said he could communicate with his solicitors only through his daughter, who was away on holiday when the papers and judgment were served.

Madam Tham, who is represented by David Nayar and Associates, argued against this, claiming Tan was seeking to delay the matter and that he had no viable defence.

She said in an affidavit: "It appears that he (Tan) seeks to make me suffer even more for the loss of my son by having to relive this entire trauma by making me proceed to trial and prove what he knows is indefeasible."

In his defence, Tan said he had "acted in self-defence" during the incident as he had "reasonably and honestly believed he was under threat" from Mr Tuppani and his friends.

During Tan's trial, it emerged that the relationship between the two men had soured after Tan learnt of Mr Tuppani's extramarital relationship and also that he had suspended another daughter, Sherry, from the company that Tan had founded.

He also claimed that Mr Tuppani owed him $40,000 from a prior business arrangement.

Tan, who is represented by United Legal Alliance in the lawsuit, said he took along a knife to "defend himself" when he went to confront Mr Tuppani at the coffee shop, as he feared being outnumbered by Mr Tuppani and his friends.

Tan said he feared for his safety when Mr Tuppani "suddenly stood up" while he was trying to initiate a conversation with him and that he stabbed Mr Tuppani "in an act of self-defence".

Tan insisted that he did not "breach the standard of care owed to the deceased as he had acted reasonably in the circumstances".

The civil suit is ongoing.