Singapore court sentences man to five-and-a-half years’ jail for trying to kill hostess girlfriend in public, biting off her earlobe

Chen Jianhua stabbed Ye Yuhuan’s neck and back, biting off part of her earlobe and spitting it out. ― Niek Verlaan/Pixabay via TODAY
Chen Jianhua stabbed Ye Yuhuan’s neck and back, biting off part of her earlobe and spitting it out. ― Niek Verlaan/Pixabay via TODAY

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SINGAPORE, Feb 23 — Angry that his girlfriend had lied about her age and lodged a police report against him, Chen Jianhua bought a knife with the intention of killing her.

In front of the popular Muthu’s Curry restaurant at Little India, Chen stabbed Ye Yuhuan’s neck and back, biting off part of her earlobe and spitting it out. His ceramic knife broke into two pieces due to the force.

Ye was left with serious injuries and some permanent scarring but ultimately did not die.

Chen, a 31-year-old China national, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ jail in the High Court today for his actions against Ye, a fellow China national seven years older than him.

Chen pleaded guilty to one charge each of attempted culpable homicide, criminal intimidation and trespass. A fourth charge of theft in dwelling was taken into consideration for sentencing.

Following the incident, he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder. 

A forensic psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health found that the mental illness contributed to Chen’s offence and led to him being unable to appreciate that his actions would clearly amount to murder, though he was not of unsound mind at the time.

His mental responsibility for his actions was substantially impaired, the psychiatrist further found.

Stole her belongings

The court heard that Ye, who worked as a hostess at a “flower joint” along Race Course Road, lived in the same hostel as Chen. They stayed in the respective male and female sections of the hostel, with Ms Ye staying with five other roommates.

The couple met on social networking platform WeChat around February 2019.

From then till June, Chen bought her gifts and helped her financially, and they regarded each other as boyfriend and girlfriend even though they were not physically intimate.

Around early July that year, their relationship turned sour. Chen suspected she was working as more than a hostess, tailing her as she refused to tell him exactly where she worked.

On July 7, after Ye had gone to work, Chen broke into her room and took her luggage case back to his room.

He forced the bag open, damaging the lock and zippers, and found items like a Singapore disembarkation form with her personal particulars. He was shocked to discover that she had lied about her age.

Court documents did not state how old she had told him she was.

He then stole an iPhone, two red packets containing about S$800 (RM2,449) in total, two expired China train tickets and the disembarkation form. 

He kept the latter two items as he wanted to confront Ye for lying about her age.

As for the phone and red packets, he felt he had spent too much money on her and wanted to recoup some of it.

While returning the luggage to his room, he bumped into one of her roommates and lied that he was just returning some of Ye’s belongings. Some of the roommates complained to their landlord and Ye learned of what happened.

Chen took the iPhone to a mobile phone shop to unlock it but failed as he did not have her Apple ID.

He also thought of lodging a police report against her for cheating him but did not go through with it.

‘At most, we’ll die together’

He then contacted Ye, confronting her and demanding that she pay him back a certain sum of money. He tabulated all his past expenditures on her and used vulgarities.

He subsequently sent two audio messages in Mandarin over WeChat, telling her: “At most, we’ll die together. I’ll make you die” and “If you cannot repay in full, I see you, we’ll die together.”

Ye soon agreed to pay him back, but they continued quarrelling over the next few days.

Two days after he broke into her room, she noticed her luggage case was damaged and realised her items were missing.

She told Chen she would report this to the police. He grew upset as he was worried he could be sent back to China, where he still had debts to settle.

Later that evening, he went to a supermarket to buy a knife, keeping it in his trouser packet. He wanted to stab Ye if she insisted on reporting him for theft.

They continued quarrelling at the hostel and the landlord evicted Ye. Chen persisted in calling her to chase for payment but she did not respond.

Called the police himself

On July 11, he told her he would go to her workplace and look for her. He also contacted her relatives in China to try to complain about her. She told him not to do this and lodged a police report against him.

A police officer contacted Chen, who later called home to China and complained to his mother and brother about being cheated. His mother advised him not to do anything stupid.

At about 8pm, Chen went to Race Course Road and spotted Ye and her friend at a mobile phone shop.

“He felt that he was prepared to kill her and then die himself when he is punished by the law subsequently. He felt that he was willing to bear the consequences of killing the victim,” Deputy Public Prosecutors Dora Tay and Andrew Low told the court.

Around 8.30pm, he retrieved the knife, pulled Ye towards him and stabbed her neck and back in a downwards motion. He also bit off part of her left earlobe.

Caught off guard, Ye struggled and collapsed. When Chen saw her bleeding, he “felt he was too impulsive” and called the police, throwing the knife into some nearby bushes.

Several members of the public, as well as an employee manning Muthu’s Curry, called the police too.

Ye was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where her earlobe was surgically reattached. She was warded for seven days and given 14 days of hospitalisation leave.

Her injuries were likely not life-threatening but could potentially have been worse under different circumstances, a doctor found.

‘Vicious attack’: Judge

Both the prosecution and Chen’s lawyer, Chung Ting Fai, sought five years’ jail for Chen. The DPPs did not seek caning in light of his mental disorder.

In sentencing him, Justice See Kee Oon noted that the attack was “vicious” and in “full public view”, causing serious injuries and permanent scarring.

The judge also did not accept that he attacked Ye purely on the spur of the moment, but had come to his senses quickly.

“His actions reflected genuine remorse and assumption of responsibility,” Justice See added.

For attempted culpable homicide, he could have jailed up to 15 years, fined, caned, or received any combination of the three. ― TODAY

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