SINGAPORE — Enraged over his wife's refusal to show him her bank account passbook, the man broke a wooden chair on her head before striking her arm with a broken chair piece. His wife of 45 years suffered a broken arm as a result.
Phoon Hoe Chiew, a 69-year-old Singaporean, was jailed nine months on Friday (19 February), after he pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt to his 65-year-old wife on 16 March last year.
Phoon was at home with his wife and their two grandsons, aged 11 and 10, when the incident happened.
As the victim put the two children to bed at around 9pm, Phoon, who is unemployed, came into the room and asked to borrow money. When his wife said that she had no money, Phoon asked to see her bank passbook but the woman declined.
According to Phoon's lawyer Johnny Seah, the woman then said something that angered Phoon.
The enraged man grabbed a wooden chair and hit his wife over her head, waking up their two grandsons. The victim, who felt pain, giddy and nauseous, told the children to leave the room.
After the chair shattered to pieces, Phoon grabbed a piece and began striking his wife on her limbs. He slapped her right cheek, and twisted her left arm several times, causing the victim to nearly fall in pain.
The attack only stopped after the 10-year-old boy intervened and stood in between his grandparents. He told his grandfather to stop hitting the victim, while his elder brother called the couple's 41-year-old daughter.
The daughter brought her mother for medical treatment and lodged a police report.
As a result of the assault, the elderly woman fractured her left forearm and had bruises and abrasions all over her body, in addition to a minor head injury.
Even though she has since undergone rehabilitation for her arm, she still feels stiffness and ongoing pain on her wrist, which affects her ability to perform daily chores, according to a clinic review on 8 October. The victim was counselled over the potential need for surgery in the future if her current management plan does not work.
In mitigation, Seah told the court that the couple had been married for 45 years and had two daughters, both in their 40s.
The "one-off incident" was brought about by Phoon's mistaken view that his wife's reply "looked down on him", said the lawyer, who added that there were no other complaints of domestic violence.
"The accused is remorseful of his overreaction to a request for a loan which he heard was something sinister. He got upset as he thought the reply from the wife was too much and that triggered his reaction which he now regrets," said Seah.
While the victim declined to divorce Phoon, the couple have since been separated, with the victim living with her elder daughter and Phoon staying alone.
District Judge May Mesenas noted that though the incident was "one-off", Phoon's reaction was clearly disproportionate to whatever his wife might have said.
She also considered the victim's age and how her ability to perform household chores had been affected. The judge imposed a jail term of nine months, which Deputy Public Prosecutor Cheng Yuxi had sought.
For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, Phoon could have been jailed up to 10 years, and fined. He cannot be caned as he is above 50 years old.
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