Man who tried to kill daughter over house dispute jailed 15 years

·Senior Reporter
·5-min read
A knife (PHOTO: Getty Images)
A knife (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A man who stabbed his eldest daughter 17 times in Marsiling, after believing that she sold their house in Malaysia, was jailed for 15 years on Friday (5 November).

Shoo Ah San, a 65-year-old Malaysian, waited with a knife near 42-year-old Shoo Suet Lian's house in Marsiling, then stabbed her in the wee hours of the morning of 17 January last year, while she was at a bus stop making her way to work. After Suet Lian tried to flee, he returned to attack her again.  

Sentencing Shoo, Justice Aedit Abdullah found that "substantial and grave harm" was caused through Suet Lian's injuries and the location of the attacks. While Suet Lian survived the attack, she suffered a collapsed lung and possible blood in the heart sac. One of her 17 wounds was as long as 4cm and went into her muscle. 

Justice Abdullah noted that while the victim had fortunately not suffered a permanently debilitating injury, she still feared sitting down at the bus stop and would remain standing so that she could run if there was trouble. She would also avoid the area where she was attacked a second time. 

"The attacks having occurred along the street, in the morning, caused harm to the public peace, and it is readily inferable that attacks of this nature would cause disquiet and fear, as the brazenness of the attacks occurring in such a setting unsettles the expectation of security peace and obedience to law that any citizen should expect," he said. 

The prosecution earlier submitted for 16 to 18 years' jail, stating that the offence was clearly premeditated, and that Shoo had planned to kill his children, including Suet Lian. Shoo had pleaded guilty to a count of attempted murder earlier this week.

'Absolute dereliction' of duty as father: DPP

Shoo - a widower with two sons and three daughters - did not have a good relationship with his children and was further estranged after a dispute over the ownership of a house in Taman Perling, Johor Bahru. 

The house had been bought in Suet Lian's name, however Shoo disputed its ownership, claiming that he had paid for the house but it was under his daughter's name as he was not allowed to own a second property.

Shoo had further planned to commit suicide after killing his children and had prepared suicide notes, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yang. 

Shoo attacked his daughter, which was an "absolute dereliction" of his duty as a father, said DPP Zhou, adding that his attack had been "vicious" as he had targeted her neck and given her a collapsed lung injury. 

"It was purely fortuitous that a passerby was there and able to call for immediate medical assistance," he said.

When Shoo realised that Suet Lian was not dead as he was about to ride off on his motorcycle, he returned to her to try to finish the deed. 

After that, Shoo went in search of his son Chee Seng - who worked in Singapore as a mechanic - for five days before his arrest. 

He was caught in the vicinity of his son's workshop with the knife, which he brought from Malaysia. A charge of possessing the weapon - which had a 10cm serrated blade - was taken into consideration for his sentencing. 

Shoo had also been unhappy with Chee Seng, who had changed the locks to the house in Johor Bahru in 2016 after the elderly man removed the ancestral tablet. 

He broke into the house in early 2019 and vandalised the walls with red paint, proclaiming that Suet Lian was unfilial and declaring his intention to kill his children. He did not show up to a meeting with Chee Seng to discuss the house.

On 16 January last year, after Shoo’s girlfriend asked him to move out of her house, Shoo decided to carry out his plan to enter Singapore and kill Suet Lian. He entered Singapore the next day and rode to Marsiling Lane to find his daughter. 

Defence painted Shoo as 'lonely father figure'

When Justice Abdullah asked if there can be an abuse of trust even if the relationship was estranged, DPP Zhou replied even if the relationship was strained, the "minimal expectation is that a parent would not venture as far as killing his own children" for the circumstances that he or she was in.

Commenting on this point, Justice Abdullah said that it was hard to see how there could have been any such abuse, as the victim was estranged from Shoo and had no contact with him at all.

"What might matter is whether the attack occurred because of the exploitation of some vulnerability by the attacker, including a familial relationship. But again, that could not have been the case here given the absence of any ongoing relationship between the accused and the victim," said the judge.

Shoo's pro bono lawyer, Victor David Lau, painted Shoo as a "lonely father figure" who had been chased out of his house and forced to live on the streets. 

He came to Singapore to try negotiating the house issue with his daughter when their relationship faltered, said the defence.

Justice Abdullah asked if Shoo was "effectively without family now", and Lau replied "yes".

When asked if no one has been visiting Shoo in prison, Lau said, "Your Honour, the only one visiting him has been me."

Lau sought 10 years' jail for Shoo, pointing out his client's plea of guilt, his clean history, and his age as mitigating factors, as a long sentence would effectively amount to a life sentence.

However Justice Abdullah ruled that Shoo's age could not lead to a reduction in sentence given the heinousness of his crime, shown by the viciousness of his attack, the injuries he caused and its occurrence in a public place.

For attempting to murder his daughter, Shoo could have been jailed up to 20 years, or fined, or both. He cannot be caned as he is above 50 years old. 

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