SINGAPORE — A man who attacked a random woman with a kitchen knife while experiencing a relapse of his psychotic disorder was jailed for two years on Wednesday (12 May).
Neo Hong Wei, 23, was also ordered to be involuntarily admitted to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) after the completion of his jail term to undergo treatment.
District Judge May Mesenas told Neo that he hoped he would take his medication and treatment seriously so that he can be safely released to the community.
Neo, represented by lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law, had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of causing hurt with a dangerous weapon. He told the court on Wednesday that he had no intention of hurting the victim as he did not bear any hatred towards her.
Frustrated and angry over national service matters, Neo had armed himself with a 31-cm long kitchen knife and left his home on 29 September last year, thinking of “doing something bad” in order to make himself feel better. According to court documents, Neo had not taken his "medication" for three days at that point although his condition was not specified.
He chanced upon a 27-year-old woman at an open air car park near Block 412 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3 and attacked her.
When the woman tripped and fell, Neo swung the knife at her head and body repeatedly while she tried to block the blows. She then regained her footing and fled while screaming for help.
An off-duty police officer, attracted by the screams, borrowed a hoe from a nearby construction site and confronted Neo. A driver of a car who witnessed the incident also told Neo to drop his knife.
Neo then shouted “Why?!” and started slashing his forearm with the knife, prompting the police officer to grab Neo's right wrist and subdue him, with the help of members of the public. They restrained him with rope while awaiting the arrival of more police officers.
Apart from lacerations and abrasions over her body and scalp, the victim was also unable to walk for two weeks and feared leaving her home for five months following the attack.
Neo was later assessed by a psychiatrist at the IMH and deemed to have a psychotic disorder. An IMH psychiatrist stated that Neo possibly suffered from schizophrenia.
However, Neo was found not to have been of unsound mind at the time and was not "so psychotic as to have abdicated his mental capacity to know right from wrong", stated prosecutors.
He was also deemed to be at a significant risk of "further interpersonal violence and dangerousness towards others at present" and was unlikely to be compliant with prescribed psychiatric treatment if left on his own.
Noting the psychiatrist's findings, DJ Mesenas said that it was best that Neo continued his treatment and referred him to IMH after his sentence.
For causing hurt with a weapon, Neo could have be jailed up to seven years, fined, caned or received a combination of the punishments.
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