Six people charged with murder in 2022; four of the alleged killers were related to victims
Six people were charged with murder in 2022, including two in November, in a year which saw a dip in family violence cases.
The murder cases involved accused individuals who are related to or were acquaintances of the victims. The alleged killers include 48-year-old Xavier Yap Jung Houn, who is facing two murder charges for the deaths of his twin sons, 11.
Checks by The Straits Times showed that four of the six accused of murder were related to the victims.
The two who were acquaintances of the victims were Sumiyati, a 49-year-old Indonesian maid charged with killing a 73-year-old man in the flat she worked in, and Caleb Joshua Chai Shanmugam, a 50-year-old Singaporean charged with killing his 27-year-old business partner.
Caleb is the oldest person charged with murder in 2022. The youngest is Sylesnar Seah Jie Kai, who at 19 was charged in October with the murder of his 47-year-old father, Mr Eddie Seah Wee Teck.
Offenders convicted of murder can either face the death penalty or be jailed for life and caned.
As in previous years, lawyers said, most of the murder victims were allegedly killed by those closest to them.
“There is usually an underlying relationship between the victim and the perpetrator,” said Mr Cory Wong of Invictus Law, who added that emotions can run high if there are difficulties between the parties.
“If tensions have been going on for a while, and there is the onset of a psychiatric condition, this may ultimately push a person over the edge.”
Lawyer Amolat Singh, managing partner of Amolat & Partners, added that the opportunity to strike is greater when there are close familial ties and shared living arrangements.
Department of Statistics figures showed that seven people were charged with murder in 2021, and eight in 2020. Only a few cases involved random acts of violence.
One notable incident happened on May 10, 2020, when Surajsrikan Diwakar Mani Tripathi, 22, stabbed Mr Tay Rui Hao, a man he did not know.
Mr Tay, 38, was jogging near Punggol Field, on a night that marked the anniversary of Surajsrikan’s father abandoning his family, when the killer struck.
Surajsrikan was sentenced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to a charge of murder in what prosecutors said was a “senseless” killing.
Dr Annabelle Chow, principal clinical psychologist at Annabelle Psychology, said that when there are limited chances to interact with another person, there are fewer opportunities for conflicts to develop.
“Within the family, however, we have higher expectations of how people should behave and are more likely to show a more raw version of ourselves. This might be a reason for the popular saying, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’,” she said.
There are usually several compounding factors that come together to trigger a person to commit murder, said Dr Chow.
One factor could be emotional dysregulation, which refers to an emotional response that is considered to be not appropriate, healthy or normal, in terms of intensity and duration, to a circumstance.
Dr Chow said being emotionally dysregulated alone does not mean that a person meets the full diagnostic criteria for having a mental disorder.
But a person in this state may have a lower stress threshold or have unhealthy thought patterns which may cause them to see issues as worse than they are and struggle with anger management.
“For example, some of my patients might hurt themselves or others when they are angry, as an expression of that anger,” she said.
Dr Chow added: “For the bulk of the population, there will be moments in our lives when we are emotionally dysregulated.
“For example, if you don’t sleep or eat enough, and you’re undergoing significant stress with a financial, work or relationship problem, this can precipitate or perpetuate how you are already feeling and your ability to manage it.”
She said people in this state who do not end up committing a serious crime could have resources to stop them from acting impulsively, healthier coping methods or a support system of family and friends to talk to, or their logical mind is able to remind them of the consequences of certain actions.
Experts say other factors that could trigger murderous thoughts include personality traits and trauma that the killer may have suffered. “It is rarely one thing in isolation,” said Dr Chow, adding that these factors have to be considered together with other aspects of the person’s life.
Police figures showed that there were 2,603 reports on family violence in the first six months of 2022, down from 2,638 reports the previous year, but up from 2,560 in the same period in 2020. The offences include causing hurt, assault and criminal intimidation.
Police started tracking such reports in 2020 to assist the Taskforce on Family Violence.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development said in 2021 that the common types of family violence seen at Family Violence Specialist Centres are spousal abuse, which comprised 45 per cent of cases, and child abuse, which made up 22 per cent of cases.
In September 2021, the task force released a report with 16 recommendations to make it easier for victims of family violence to get help and better protect themselves against their abusers.
These recommendations, which included enhancing the National Anti-Violence Helpline to allow multiple modes of reporting family violence, were accepted by the Government in October 2021.
From April 2023, the hotline will provide victims of family violence with help from social service professionals around the clock.
• Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline:
6389-2222 (24 hours)
• Samaritans of Singapore:
1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
• Singapore Association for Mental Health:
• Silver Ribbon Singapore:
• Tinkle Friend:
1800-274-4788 and www.tinklefriend.sg
• Community Health Assessment Team:
6493-6500/1 and www.chat.mentalhealth.sg
• TOUCHline (Counselling):
• TOUCH Care Line (for seniors, caregivers):
• Care Corner Counselling Centre:
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