River Valley High School death: Singapore student charged with murder; to be remanded for psychiatric assessment

Students of River Valley High School leaving the premises after Monday’s incident. — TODAY pic
Students of River Valley High School leaving the premises after Monday’s incident. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, July 20 —  A 16-year-old Secondary 4 student of River Valley High School was charged today with murdering a 13-year-old boy, who was a Sec 1 student. 

Court documents said that the boy was allegedly killed between 11.16am and 11.45am at a level four toilet in the school.

While it was not stated how the boy died, the police said yesterday that they had seized an axe as a case exhibit.

The 16-year-old, who is represented by Peter Keith Fernando of the Leo Fernando Advocates & Solicitors law firm, will be remanded for psychiatric assessment and will return to court on August 10.

He attended the court hearing today via a video link from remand. He was emotionless during the proceedings, and appeared tired and dishevelled. 

His parents were not present during the hearing.

A police prosecutor said that preliminary investigations showed that the 16-year-old was previously a patient at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

The police had attended to a case of attempted suicide by the boy in 2019. 

“Following the incident, he was taken into custody for his safety and subsequently referred to IMH for assessment. He was then discharged,” the prosecutor said.

Under the Children and Young Persons Act, which covers young persons under the age of 18, neither of the boys can be named.

The police had said in a statement yesterday that early investigations showed that the two boys did not know each other. 

The had received a call for help at about 11.40am yesterday. When the officers arrived at the school, they found the 13-year-old Singaporean boy lying motionless in a toilet.

Murder, punishable under Section 302(1) of the Penal Code, typically carries the death penalty in Singapore.

However, offenders below 18 will be sentenced to life imprisonment instead, based on the Criminal Procedure Code.

Police investigations are underway.

About the case

On Monday afternoon, the school said in a statement on the Ministry of Education’s Parents’ Gateway portal that a “serious incident” involving a Sec 1 student had taken place and that a Sec 4 male student was assisting in police investigations.

The school also urged parents not to speculate on the incident or post anything on social media.

Some parents had turned up at the school in the afternoon, following the message on the portal, media reports and messages circulating on WhatsApp about the incident. 

Students were also seen being released at about 3.30pm, after they were kept indoors for their safety.

They were ushered by school staff members and not allowed to speak to the media. 

In a Facebook post on Monday afternoon, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that MOE is working closely with the police on the investigations and the police will share more details in due course.

At about 6.30pm, Chan was seen at the school. He told the media that he had spoken to the principals, teachers and some students during his visit there.

He repeated the assurances made earlier in his Facebook post and appealed to the public not to speculate on the reasons and respect the affected families’ privacy. He did not take any questions from the media. — TODAY

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