SINGAPORE — A man who had viciously stabbed his ex-wife in the carpark of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central in 2018 had been upset over the division of matrimonial assets, and over the woman’s alleged infidelity, the High Court heard on Tuesday (14 September).
Seet Cher Hng, 69, stabbed Low Swee Geok, Divisional Director of the Examinations Division at the Ang Mo Kio institution in 19 July 2018, after feeling increasingly isolated and depressed by her failure to respond to his demands.
Seet then turned the knife on himself, inflicting 13 stab wounds on his chest and abdomen, but survived.
At the start of his trial on Tuesday (14 September), Seet indicated his desire to plead guilty to his charge of murder under section 300(c) of the penal code, which states that he intentionally caused such bodily injury as is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death of Low, who was 56.
However, as he cannot plead guilty to a capital charge under the law, the trial proceeded with the prosecution reading the opening statement and submitting 47 conditioned statements from witnesses, including eyewitnesses at the scene of the crime, pathologists and analysts from the Health Sciences Authority and the police officers involved in the case.
Seet was then called on by Justice Aedit Abdullah to take the stand, but declined to give evidence, stating, “I wish to plead guilty and I do not wish to give evidence.”
Justice Abdullah said that he was satisfied that the charge of murder had been made out and convicted Seet of murder, some one hour into the hearing.
Seet's lawyer, Wendell Wong, told the court that Seet’s main intention behind pleading guilty had been to shield his daughter, whom he "loved dearly", and other loved ones from re-living the tragedy. His sister, who was present in court, was given some time to speak to Seet after the hearing. "This is a painful family tragedy, a life lost and a family shattered," said Wong.
The prosecution stated that it would not be objecting to life imprisonment for Seet, while Wong also said that he would be proceeding on the same basis for mitigation.
The hearing was then adjourned to 22 September for sentencing. Seet faces the death penalty or life imprisonment. He cannot be caned as he is above 50.
Breakdown of marriage and Seet's beliefs of wife's 'infidelity'
Seet and Low married on 7 April 1993 but divorced on 13 June 2011. Seet retired from his job at the ITE Headquarters on 30 June 2017, and relied on monthly payouts from his Central Provident Fund.
After the couple's divorce, Seet became unhappy with his share of the proceeds from the division of matrimonial assets – a condominium unit jointly owned by the couple. He also blamed the divorce on Low’s alleged infidelity.
Between 2011 to 2018, Seet demanded via email that Low pay him a sum varying from $200,000 to $500,000 as his share of the proceeds as well as “compensation” for the alleged infidelity. He left a letter on the windscreen of her car at the carpark of ITE College Central sometime before Chinese New Year in 2018. He demanded $500,000 and threatened to commence legal proceedings in the letter.
However, Low ignored his letters and emails, and Seet became “increasingly more isolated, upset and depressed”, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun told the court.
Seet made plans
On 17 July 2018, Seet reserved a car from a car-sharing platform, to use on 19 July from 4pm to 10pm. He picked up the car from Clementi on 19 July and drove to ITE College Central.
He brought along with him a haversack containing three knives, a spanner, and a note addressed to the police, dated 12 April 2018. One of these knives had two sets of numerals “010609” and “020609”, engraved on its blade. These numbers represented the dates which Seet believed he caught Low having an affair – and served as a reminder to him of her alleged infidelity.
Seet arrived at ITE College Central at about 4.41pm and drove around Carpark K to look for Low’s car. He parked some 30 lots away and lay in wait for her, intending to enter her car just before she drove off.
Low appeared at about 7.33pm and entered the driver's side of her car. Seet then made his move, entering the front passenger side door of her car with his haversack, causing Low to scream. Seet grabbed his ex-wife’s arm to prevent her escape but she slipped out of his grasp after a brief struggle.
Low stepped out of her car but fell. Seet followed quickly behind, getting out from the front passenger side with a knife in his right hand. He went around the back of the car, towards her, and stabbed her repeatedly – in her left upper chest, left mid-back and left lower back. While the stab wounds to her chest and abdomen were fatal, each individual wound was enough to cause her death by severe bleeding, the court heard. Low sustained a total of eight stab and incised wounds.
Seet then stabbed his own torso repeatedly before collapsing on top of his ex-wife. Police officers and paramedics who were alerted to the scene by a “999” call from a witness pronounced Low dead at the scene at 8.03pm.
Seet was also conveyed to hospital where he was found with 13 stab wounds, some of which caused liver lacerations. He eventually recovered from his injuries and was assessed by a psychiatrist, who stated that he did not suffer from a major mental disorder and was not of unsound mind at the time of the offence.
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