SINGAPORE — A 24-year-old man who slashed one of his bosses to death and severely injured another was sentenced to 20 years’ jail on Wednesday (9 June).
Yee Jing Man, a Malaysian, had been suffering from major depressive disorder when he committed the offence. While Yee was found to not have been of unsound mind, his disorder was deemed to have significantly impaired his mental responsibility and he qualified for the defence of diminished responsibility.
At the time of the offence, Yee was due to be terminated from his job due to his deteriorating performance at work.
Yee pleaded guilty at the High Court to one count each of culpable homicide and voluntarily causing grievous hurt with a weapon. Another eight charges involving wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
According to the prosecution, the killing would have been classified as murder if not for Yee's mental condition.
Planned to attack firm's directors
Yee came to Singapore in March 2017 and began working for Ji Ji, an e-commerce firm at Sungei Kadut Loop, and was put in charge of ensuring purchases were loaded onto delivery trucks at the firm's warehouse.
According to court documents, he was recommended for the job by his Malaysian girlfriend who also worked at Ji Ji, and he was hired by one of the firm's three director's, 29-year-old Lin Xinjie.
Yee initially performed well at his job and was praised by another Ji Ji director, 29-year-old Pan Zai Xing.
During the Chinese New Year period in 2018, Lin rewarded Yee with a red packet containing $999 and offered him a promotion with a salary increase. However, Yee declined the offer as he did not want the increased stress and workload.
From September 2018, Yee’s performance slipped as he began absenting himself from work without any valid documentation. He was absent from work for 69 days between 1 December 2017 and 12 March 2019.
During this period, Yee began forming grudges against Lin and another of the firm's directors, 30-year-old Li Mingqiao. Yee felt that Lin scolded him unreasonably, and was a useless person who became a boss because of family wealth. He also felt that Li was sarcastic when talking to him.
By February 2019, Yee had developed insomnia and began imagining killing all three directors with a chopper. He decided to commit suicide after killing the trio as he felt there was no purpose to life due to his constant worrying about money.
On 12 February that year, Yee’s girlfriend called him to tell him that Lin wanted to fire him. Yee said in response that he would attack Lin. He then bought a chopper while on the way to work and hid it in his sling bag.
At work, he demanded that Lin give him his termination letter, but Lin said he was busy and asked to have lunch with Yee instead. While Yee waited, his girlfriend tried to check his sling bag and felt a hard object, but Yee simply brushed her hand away, warning her not to touch his bag.
Yee later changed his mind about killing Lin. Lin and Pan decided to give Yee a month off and asked that he continue working at Ji Ji for a reduced pay.
Yee’s girlfriend, with whom he shared a rented room, noticed that Yee had performed internet searches on how to die quickly and how to kill people so that they died easily.
Although Yee returned to work, he stopped showing up again from 6 March 2019, and would take medical as well as personal leave.
On 11 March that year, Yee's girlfriend became angry that Yee did not want to go to work and slapped him. She told him to return to Ipoh, and offered to buy him a bus ticket. That morning, Pan texted Yee's girlfriend to tell her that Yee no longer needed to come to work, and the girlfriend forwarded the messages to Yee.
Furious, Yee revived his plan to attack the three directors. He packed the chopper and a ceramic knife in his bag and searched online if he would be deported to his home country after his arrest, before leaving for work.
Around midday, Yee texted Pan, “I have made a decision”, “don’t run”, and alleged that he was treated like a beggar as he was only given a $20 red packet for the recent Chinese New Year, said the prosecution. Pan did not know what to make of these messages and ignored them.
When he reached his workplace, Yee slashed Li on back of his head and neck while the latter was sitting at his desk. Yee then walked towards Lin and swung the chopper towards the back of Lin’s neck. He also slashed Lin’s forearm and finger.
Yee threw the $20 red packet at Pan and demanded that he eat it. Pan placed the red packet in his mouth and swallowed it.
Yee then told Pan not to treat him like a beggar. He also barricaded the office door and entrance with furniture.
Still conscious, Lin asked his subordinates to call for an ambulance but Yee threatened to harm them. However, one of the staff managed to call the police.
Sometime later, Yee told Pang, “I have no way to go” and stabbed himself in the stomach with the knife. He also slashed himself on the wrist with his chopper before collapsing on the floor, muttering in Mandarin, “Why you all have to dismiss me? I have no other way to go.”
He was arrested by police officers at around 1pm following a struggle. Lin was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Li sustained injuries to his face, scalp and earlobe; a fractured jaw; and a tear in the artery on his neck.
He underwent emergency surgery but his recovery was complicated by a wound infection. He has lasting scarring to his face, right shoulder weakness and facial weakness, from which he may not fully recover.
Li is also still attending physiotherapy to help with the recovery from his injuries.
Yee received treatment and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Apart from being placed under suicide watch, he was prescribed an anti-depressant and a sedative. A psychiatrist's report stated that Yee’s disorder “caused blinkered and catastrophic thinking and substantially impaired the accused’s ability to think of more obvious, more logical and more pro-social solutions” to his problems.
Yee’s condition has been in remission and has not shown self-harm or suicidal tendencies in prison. He would need close psychiatric follow up, but is at a low risk of re-offending, said another psychiatrist's report.
For culpable homicide, Yee could have been jailed for life, or up to 20 years, fined, caned, or received a combination of the punishments. For voluntarily causing grievous hurt with a weapon he could have been jailed up to 15 years, fined, caned, or received a combination of punishments.
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