Teen Pleads Guilty To River Valley High Axe Homicide, Gets 16 Years’ Jail
UPDATE (1 Dec, 3.40pm): The River Valley High School student who pleaded guilty to killing his schoolmate with an axe in 2021 has been sentenced to 16 years’ jail, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported.
After handing down the sentence, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng said that although the offender had been suffering from depression prior to the attack, he still had control over his actions.
He was also aware that what he was going to do was legally and morally wrong.
In 2021, Singapore saw one of its most shocking crimes in its history when a 16-year-old River Valley High School student killed a 13-year-old boy with an axe.
He was later diagnosed with clinical depression and had his murder charge amended to culpable homicide.
The accused pleaded guilty to the homicide charge today (1 Dec).
Prosecutors sought 12 to 16 years’ jail, while the defence argued for five years’ jail instead.
River Valley High School student kills schoolmate with axe
The tragic case occurred on 19 July 2021.
Sometime between 11.16am and 11.44am, the accused committed the act, striking his target in the head, neck, and body.
Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported that the two students did not know each other.
The offender picked his target at random after waiting inside a fourth-floor school toilet.
After committing the act, he told a teacher that he had killed someone and asked her to call the police.
The police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) arrived at the school at about 11.50am and arrested the teen.
A paramedic also pronounced the victim dead at the scene.
Murder charge downgraded to culpable homicide
Initially, the offender faced the murder charge.
However, Institute of Mental Health (IMH) staff assessed that he was suffering from clinical depression at the time of the crime.
He was previously a patient at IMH, including after a suicide attempt at the age of 14.
As such, the court amended his charge to culpable homicide not amounting to murder on 24 Feb 2023.
The now 18-year-old offender later expressed his intention to plead guilty to the culpable homicide charge.
River Valley High School student pleads guilty in court
On Friday (1 Dec), the offender indeed followed through and pleaded guilty in court.
The prosecution sought 12 to 16 years’ jail for him, highlighting the case as “truly unprecedented”.
Meanwhile, the defence asked for a more lenient five-year term.
The offender could face life imprisonment with caning, or up to 20 years’ jail with a fine or caning.
With the hearing still ongoing, the judge has yet to hand down a sentence.
Gag order on victim’s identity lifted
According to 8world News, the victim’s parents requested for the gag order on his name to be lifted.
He has since been identified as Ethan Hun Zhe Kai.
Through their lawyers, Ethan’s parents expressed hope that people would remember their child’s kind and peace-loving nature.
The Straits Times (ST) reported that River Valley High School has since increased mental health access for students and staff.
This comes in the form of additional counsellors as well as well-being awareness talks for students.
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Featured image adapted from Wikimedia Commons.
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