Everything About the Boon Tat Street Murder Simplified for You

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While watching Channel 8 dramas, you’d probably sometimes wonder if these dramatic plots ever happen in real life, and where the scriptwriters got their inspiration from. Do these things even happen in Singapore?

Well, the simple answer is yes, sometimes family feuds could lead to disaster, even in modern-day Singapore.

Murdered In Cold Blood

Tan Nam Seng, 72, pleaded guilty on 20 August to a reduced charge of murdering his 39-year-old son-in-law Spencer Tuppani three years ago.

On 10 July 2017, he had repeatedly stabbed Tuppani with a knife in the chest three times at a coffee shop along Telok Ayer street in the middle of the afternoon at around 1.20pm.

CCTV footage also showed that Tuppani had run away after being attacked and stabbed by Tan at the coffee shop, where he was having lunch with his friends.

Tan also kicked him in the face twice thereafter, and Tuppani ended up collapsing outside a restaurant along Boon Tat Street.

Motive

In 1974, Tan founded a port management company named TNS Shipping.

The business continued to expand into several companies as the years went by, and his three daughters all worked for the company.

Upon marrying Tan’s eldest daughter Shyller in 2005, Tuppani started working for one of the companies.

Later on, the companies merged to form TNS Ocean Lines, with Tan as the chairman and Tuppani becoming one of the directors.

Tuppani later went on to become CEO of the new company when it was sold to a larger corporation in 2016.

Having initiated and overseen the deal, Tuppani then persuaded several shareholders to transfer their shares to him to increase his stake in the company, including Tan and his own wife, Shyller.

However, Tan only received about $450,000 for the sale of his shares, which was lesser than he expected and was unhappy about it, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lim Jian Yi.

He Cheated On His Wife, Too

To make matters worse, Shyller then found out in early 2017 that Tuppani had been having an affair with another woman, and even had two children as a result.

A divorce was thus agreed upon, but Shyller and Tuppani frequently argued about the custody of their children, much to the distress of Tan, who always mediated their discussions.

Tan also found out that Tuppani recorded some of their arguments, and suspected that he was going to use it in court to fight for the custody of the kids and avoid paying alimony.


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Following that, Tan’s youngest daughter Sherry had engaged in conflict with Tuppani’s personal assistant over the alleged leak of private family messages and was suspended from the company on 4 July 2017.

Tan then started to believe that Tuppani might remove Shyller from the company too and that it was all an elaborate plan to take over his business once and for all after divorcing her and taking over their shares.

The DPP stated that this left Tan sleepless at night, worrying about this issue and constantly feeling miserable.

Confrontation

Deciding to talk it out with Tuppani, Tan arranged to meet up with him to discuss the suspension of his daughter the following day, but Tuppani cancelled the meeting at the last minute.

In a twist of fate, Tan then spotted Tuppani having a leisurely lunch with his buddies at Telok Ayer Street a few days later on 10 July while on his way to his office.

Upon arriving at his Cecil Street office, Tan grabbed a knife from the pantry and headed back to the coffee shop Tuppani was at to confront him.


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The discussion obviously did not go well, for Tan pulled out his knife from his bag and started stabbing Tuppani in the chest after saying he was “too much” in Hokkien.

He had every intention to kill him, the court heard.

As what many people would do if they witnessed a murder, some passersby might have tried to intervene, but Tan repeatedly told them to leave Tuppani be and let him die without helping him, for he was his son-in-law.

Confession

Reflecting on what he had chosen to do, Tan calmly placed the bloody murder weapon on a nearby coffee table and took a seat while waiting for the police to arrive.

In the meantime, he phoned his daughter Shyller to inform her of his deed. She cried over the phone upon hearing that her husband was dead, to which Tan responded: “I can’t sleep at night. I have done it. I have killed him. Don’t cry. I am old already. I am not scared (of) going to jail.”


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“What’s done cannot be undone,” he added.

But He Suffered From Depression

Tan was originally charged with murder but was found to have had major depressive disorder (MDD) after going through a psychiatric analysis.

In the report by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Tan’s”pervasive dysphoric state, diminished ability to concentrate, negative cognition of helplessness, as well as overwhelming ruminations and worries about the well-being of his daughters” were found to have apparently affected his mental responsibility for his actions, as well as his judgement and impulsiveness at the time.

For culpable homicide, Tan could be sentenced to life imprisonment. As he is over 50 years old, he will not be eligible for caning.