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SINGAPORE: A 30-year-old man began physically abusing his 68-year-old mother in 2017, starving her and not allowing her to shower or “make noise” when he was stressed with school work.

Andy Koh Ju Hua, who was studying for a Master’s degree at the National University of Singapore at the time, also assaulted his mother’s vaginal area with a metal padlock and with his knee.

He pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Mar 16) to four counts of voluntarily causing hurt, one of which is under the newly enhanced provisions for victims in close relationships with the accused.

Koh, who has been remanded since November 2020, said he loves his mother and hopes to reunite with her and “live happily ever after” with her after receiving treatment for a purported “psychotic disorder”.

The court heard that Koh lived with his mother and father but began physically abusing his mother in 2017. He starved her and did not allow her to shower or make noise when he was stressed with his studies.

In the early years of the abuse, the victim refused to file police reports because she did not want to jeopardise her son’s future, and sought refuge intermittently with her nephew and niece.

She was hospitalised three times and placed in a safe house but insisted each time on returning to her family, and decided to reveal the offences to the police only in June 2020.

In January 2018, Koh used his kneecap to hit his mother’s vaginal area, intending to cause hurt. She was found by her niece in an unkempt state and complaining of pain in her lower regions. 

Her niece wanted to call the police, but the victim told her not to do so. When she went to the hospital, she said she had fallen down, in order not to implicate her son.

A medical report noted extensive bruising over the victim’s abdomen, buttocks, lower limbs and external genitalia. She was started on intravenous antibiotics and discharged later that month.

Koh assaulted his mother again in December 2018 by hitting her face with his hands at their family home. He also hit her vaginal area multiple times with a metal padlock, hooking the item around his finger to strike her.

His mother did not retaliate and just let him take out his frustrations on her, as he felt angry over certain issues. She was found with swelling on her body and bloodstains on her gown over her vaginal area.

MOTHER DID NOT WANT TO IMPLICATE HER SON

She went to the hospital, which alerted the police about the victim being abused, but she told the police that her injuries were the result of a fall she had sustained in the toilet, in order not to implicate her son.

A medical report found bruising on her nose, lower lip, jaw, chin and pubic region, with post-menopausal vaginal bleeding.

In June last year, Koh called his mother over in their flat before suddenly punching her mouth thrice. She began bleeding and ran out of the house “out of desperation”.

She sought help from her relatives, who described her as sunken, thin, frail and very dirty. Bruises were observed on her face, and her nephew called the police to say his aunt was abused by her son and she was distraught.

When she went to the hospital this time, she said her son had punched her face and said she felt pain in her chin and lip.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang said Koh has no previous convictions. She sought at least 30 weeks’ jail, saying the victim was not only elderly and vulnerable, but was also Koh’s mother.

His manner of attacking his mother with the metal padlock “is especially vicious and cruel”, said Ms Huang.

A COMPLETE LACK OF REMORSE: PROSECUTOR

“Although the accused has ultimately chosen to plead guilty, he had denied his offences to the police. Throughout investigations, he denied the offences,” she said. 

She pointed out that a report by the Institute of Mental Health said he “displays a complete lack of remorse”. 

“The only one mitigating factor is his mental condition as supported by the IMH report,” said Ms Huang, without identifying what condition this is.

Koh, who had no lawyer, sniffled as he asked for a mandatory treatment order (MTO).

“I love my mother a lot and I do not know why I committed all those silly things to her. I need to undergo treatment to overcome my psychotic disorder,” he said.

“I hope to undergo treatment and cure myself so that I can live happily ever after with my mother. She is not young anymore and I certainly wish to take care of her in her remaining days.”

The prosecution objected to the calling of an MTO report, saying Koh ought to be punished for his egregious offences, but the judge said it is appropriate to at least consider such a report.

“It’s appropriate for us to at least consider an MTO report before we consider. What is critical is for the offender to receive treatment if it’s something that had any causal or contributory link, but we should get a report to ascertain if that’s the case,” said District Judge Kessler Soh.

He initially called for a report to assess Koh’s suitability for an MTO and adjourned the case to a later date. However, court records later showed the decision to call for an MTO suitability report was retracted, and the case will be heard again on Mar 23 for mitigation and sentencing.

In response to CNA queries, NUS said Koh was no longer with the university. He had been on leave of absence since August 2019 and as he did not return to his studies after his leave of absence ended, NUS said it terminated his Master’s candidature in January this year. 

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said the judge called for an MTO suitability report. Updated court records later showed this was retracted.

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