SINGAPORE - The last man facing a non-capital charge in the fatal Orchard Towers brawl pleaded guilty on Friday (5 February) to consorting with a person armed with a weapon.
Tan Hong Sheng was one of the seven who were initially charged with murder with common intention of 31-year-old Satheesh Noel Gobidass at the entrance of Orchard Towers on 2 July 2019. About a week later, Tan's charge was downgraded to consorting with co-accused Tan Sen Yang, who was carrying a karambit knife in a public place.
Only Tan Seng Yang still faces a murder charge. The other five, Joel Tan Yun Sheng, Ang Da Yuan, Natalie Siow, Chan Jia Xing, and Loo Boon Chong, have been dealt with.
Apart from pleading guilty to the consorting charge, Tan Hong Sheng, a 23-year-old Singaporean, also pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of rioting and rioting with a deadly weapon in earlier incidents, which occurred on 18 November 2018 and 27 April 2019. Both charges involve him getting into fights at clubs after drinking.
Another five charges, two of which involve causing hurt to others after Tan was released on bail for the Orchard Towers incident, were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
On the wee hours of 2 July 2019, Tan went to several clubs to drink before ending up at Naughty Girl Club at the second floor of Orchard Towers. He was in the same group as Tan Sen Yang, whom he had known for only a month through a mutual friend.
In past drinking sessions with Tan Sen Yang, Tan had seen him behaving aggressively while wielding a karambit knife. Tan had told his mutual friend that he did not want to meet when Tan Sen Yang was present. But Tan still went ahead with the outing on 2 July 2019 despite his friend inviting Tan Sen Yang.
At about 6.20 am, as the group left the club, a dispute arose between them and another group of patrons at the club entrance. Tan saw that Tan Sen Yang was armed with the karambit knife. In the resulting fray, two were injured by Tan Sen Yang, a security officer and a patron.
Tan did not attack anyone and had pulled Tan Sen Yang away from the other group to take the lift to the ground floor.
As Tan's group headed to the building entrance, Satheesh, who had also been present at the Naughty Girl Club during the dispute, confronted one member of the group. Others retaliated by attacking him. One of them was Tan Sen Yang, who punched Satheesh with the knife in his right hand and inflicted multiple injuries to his head and neck.
Tan did not join the attack and eventually pulled Tan Sen Yang away to stop the fight. As Tan left, he saw Satheesh collapse at the entrance of Orchard Towers.
He took a cab with a few others, including Tan Sen Yang, to Boon Lay Market and Food Centre, and later discussed the altercation there with the others.
During the exchange, Tan Sen Yang told them not to worry as he would take responsibility. He then left with a friend while Tan remained at Boon Lay Market.
Separately, on 18 November 2018, Tan was at Club V5 at Ming Arcade with other friends when he attacked a man who had bumped into his shoulder and later stared at him. The group had assaulted the victim with a glass Martell bottle.
On 27 April 2019, at Club District 9 at Orchard Hotel, he joined his friends in assaulting another man. One of Tan’s friends had wanted to teach the victim a lesson for stealing his ex-girlfriend.
The prosecution sought 60 months’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane for Tan, while lawyers Josephus Tan, Cory Wong from Invictus Law sought 45 to 50 months’ jail, along with nine to 12 strokes of the cane.
Tan has a criminal record involving the same nature of offences for which he was convicted for in 2011, 2014 and 2016. He was given probation and reformative training sentences for these.
The defence lawyers cited CCTV footage and stated that Tan was calm and had “demonstrated both restraint and composure during the entire Naughty Girl Club incident”.
Even when the group had moved to the ground floor, Tan had “demonstrated considerable restraint unlike some of the other co-accused persons Tan Sen Yang, Ang Da Yuan, and Natalie Siow”, who had actively participated in the brawl, the lawyers added.
Of the other five who had been dealt with, all were given jail terms except Chan, who was given a conditional warning. Chan and Joel Tan were both represented by the same lawyers from Invictus Law.
Tan will return to court on 5 March for his sentencing.
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