Teen Who Killed His Dad After Detergent Dispute Sentenced to 5 Years’ Detention


After initially being charged with murder, a youth who stabbed his father to death in 2020 was sentenced to 5 years’ detention on 24 January after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

He is the first person in Singapore to be sentenced under a provision in the Children and Young Persons Act. The Act allows the court to impose detention for murder, culpable homicide, attempted murder or causing grievous hurt.

Prior to the Incident

The teenager had been diagnosed with autism when he was around two years old, and an Internet gaming disorder afterwards when he was 12. He was also deemed to be high-functioning and transferred to a mainstream primary school shortly after enrolling in Pathlight School in Primary One.

He had attended multiple counselling and therapy programmes to help him manage both disorders, and a psychiatrist’s assessment at IMH after his arrest concluded that both disorders did not contribute to him committing the crime.

The assessment also concluded that the teen’s risk of reoffending is low.

It was also mentioned that the father was seen as an overbearing and strict presence in the teenager’s life, limiting his access to handphone and computer games as well as ensuring that he did chores, schoolwork and additional homework regularly.

“When the accused occasionally failed to comply with the deceased’s instructions, the deceased would hit the accused and swear at him,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lim Shin Hui.

The teen then started to harbour thoughts of killing his father in June 2020 after his father banned him from playing computer games for a month. He did not tell anyone about these thoughts, nor did he act on them.

The Incident

The incident occurred on 11 December 2020, when the teenager had initially been accused by his father of throwing away the detergent scoop.

Although the teenager was angry at the accusation, he did help his father scoop the detergent powder with his hands. He then took a 9.5cm-long knife and put it in his pocket before going back to his room.


However, he was further agitated when his father confronted him again and told his younger brother that the teen had thrown the detergent scoop away.

Provoked by his father’s false accusations, he went into the kitchen and stabbed his father once in the neck while his father’s back was facing him.

After his father screamed, he ran back to his room and locked the door while his younger brother called an ambulance and their mother. His father was also able to sit down in a chair in the living room.

The teenager came out of his room shortly afterwards and applied pressure to the wound while apologising to his father and brother. However, his efforts were in vain as his father collapsed and was later pronounced dead at Changi General Hospital.

The teenager was arrested on the day of the incident after confessing that he had stabbed his father. He was 14 at the point of arrest.

The Aftermath

The teenager has been remanded in Singapore Boys’ Home since the incident, where he will likely be detained until he finishes sitting for his GCE ‘O’ Level Examinations this year.

Thereafter, he will be transferred to prison should he go on to take his ‘N’ or ‘A’ Level Examinations as prison school has the appropriate resources to aid him in taking the examinations.

Regarding the length of detention, Justice Aedit Abdullah mentioned that three years of detention was too short for effective rehabilitation, while seven was too long, especially since it would be uncertain if the teenager could be released early from the programme.

The teenager’s lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, told the court that the family was gravely affected by the case, with the teenager’s younger brother being in too much shock to speak for some time and the fact that his mother had to undergo cancer surgery shortly afterwards.

Mr Shashi’s law firm, Withers KhattarWong, provided their services to the family for free after learning that the mother had depleted almost all her savings.


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“One has no doubt that a great burden of regret will remain on the accused and the surviving family members for the rest of their lives,” Justice Abdullah said.

“But even amid that sadness, the law must still be vindicated by the courts, findings made and punishment imposed.”

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