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Estranged husband stalked wife for a year before killing her, coroner's inquiry told

SINGAPORE – She had a personal protection order taken out against her estranged husband, but he continued to stalk her, turning up at her parents’ home, her place of work and even at their son’s tuition centre.

On Feb 10 this year, while out on bail for harassing his wife, the man stabbed the 42-year-old to death with a knife.

The food caterer, 45, then fled the scene and jumped from his eighth-floor unit in Punggol.

Details of the events leading up to their deaths were revealed during a coroner’s inquiry on Monday (Sept 6).

The woman’s sisters and her daughter were in court but declined to speak to the media after the proceedings.

Investigation officer Benjamin Heng was the sole witness called during the inquiry.

He told the court that police investigations concluded that the man had “planned the scenario to attack (his wife)” and commit suicide after.

Coroner Prem Raj expressed his condolences to the next-of-kin and said he “largely agreed with the police findings” but would deliver his full findings on Oct 6.

Inspector Heng told the court that according to interviews with the woman’s parents and sister, as well as the man’s brother, the couple married in 2000 and were initially happy.

However, the marriage soured after the man got into trouble with the law for drug offences in 2008.

Upon his release from prison, his temper worsened, her father told the police.

The woman, a teacher, filed a personal protection order against him in February last year after he tried to strangle her.

Such an order is issued when the court is satisfied that family violence has been or is likely to be committed. It is aimed at restraining a respondent from committing family violence.

After the incident, the woman moved out of their marital home in Punggol with their three children, aged 11, 17 and 18, to her parents’ home in Tampines.

But her husband was undeterred, the court heard.

Insp Heng outlined at least five incidents in under a year in which the woman made a police report that her husband had breached the protection order.

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In March last year, the woman was in a Grab car when a tapping sound was heard from the back of the car. The driver stopped the car and her husband got in and refused to get out of the vehicle until the driver threatened to call the police.

In another incident, she went to pick her son from tuition when the man showed up and pressed his lips onto hers, causing her to feel “alarmed and offended”, said Insp Heng.

He followed them and only stopped when they approached a neighbourhood police post.

While the man would often loiter in the vicinity of her parents’ home, and even made unwanted visits to the unit, things culminated on Feb 10 this year.

At about 6.20am, police camera footage caught the man following the woman closely before he called out to her and chased her.

Two witnesses heard her screams and saw a man attack her. They called the authorities and stayed with her until the ambulance arrived.

Her body was found in a face-up position in a pool of blood. When paramedics moved her body, they found a broken knife blade under her.

She was taken to Changi General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

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An autopsy found that the cause of her death was at least 18 stab wounds, including in her back, chest and neck.

After the man fled the scene, he returned to this flat in Punggol and jumped from his unit at about 8.30am.

He was taken to Sengkang General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

When the police entered his flat at about 10am, they found the entrance barricaded with items, including a shoe rack and plastic chairs.

Drops of blood were seen throughout the unit.

A chopper was found in the master bedroom along with pictures of the family. He did not leave a suicide note.

Getting help

•  National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868 (8am – 12am)

Mental well-being

•  Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
•  Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
•  Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
•  Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928
•  Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 and www.tinklefriend.sg
•  Community Health Assessment Team: 6493-6500/1 and www.chat.mentalhealth.sg

Counselling

•  TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252
•  TOUCH Care Line (for seniors, caregivers): 6804-6555
•  Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800

Online resources

•  mindline.sg
•  My Mental Health: 
stayprepared.sg/mymentalhealth
•  Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: eC2.sg

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