Life imprisonment for man who stabbed roommate after fight over spending habits


SINGAPORE: After an argument over his roommate’s spending habits, a man went to prepare some food but ended up stabbing his roommate with the knife he meant to cut ingredients with.

Naing Lin, a Myanmar national, was intoxicated when he swung his knife at compatriot Myo Kyaw Thu, stabbing him several times in his chest and abdomen in their flat at Bedok Reservoir Road on Apr 2, 2021.

He left the flat and did not return until the next morning when he saw the victim lying motionless in the bedroom in a pool of blood.

Naing Lin was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday (Sep 22) after pleading guilty to one count of murder.

The court heard that the victim was a senior technician in Singapore but had been on a short-term visit pass at the time of his death.

In the afternoon before the incident, both men had a drinking session with friends. Naing Lin had five to seven large cans of beer.

The pair returned separately to the room they shared at Bedok Reservoir Road.

ARGUMENT OVER SPENDING HABITS

As Naing Lin entered the bedroom, he saw Myo Kyaw Thu sitting on his bed using his phone. They began quarrelling over the victim’s spending habits, with Naing Lin scolding his roommate for borrowing money from him and others. 

Myo Kyaw Thu retorted that he would settle his own issues without asking Naing Lin for money.

At this point, according to the prosecution, Naing Lin left for the kitchen, wanting to fry an egg. He picked up a kitchen knife and was preparing to cook when he realised he did not have his phone with him.

He returned to his bedroom to get his phone with the knife still in his hand. 

When the victim asked why he was holding the knife and scolded him, Naing Lin swung the knife at him, slashing his face.

He continued stabbing his roommate in his chest, abdomen and upper left arm, causing the victim to collapse.

Naing Lin then changed his clothes, took his mobile phone and wallet and left the unit at about 6.20pm, without checking on his roommate.

Over the next few hours, Naing Lin contacted several friends and asked them to get in touch with the victim. Naing Lin also tried to call and text Myo Kyaw Thu.

Accompanied by a friend, Naing Lin finally made his way back to the unit at around 9.20am. He initially remained in the lorry he was driving while the friend tried to enter the flat and called out to the victim.

Both men later saw the victim lying in a pool of blood through the bedroom window. Naing Lin surrendered to the police. 

An assessment by the Institute of Mental Health found that Naing Lin was intoxicated at the time of the crime but had no major mental disorder, was not intellectually disabled and was not of unsound mind. His intoxication was not to the extent that he would not have known what he was doing was wrong.

The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutors Teo Lu Jia and Seah Ee Wei, did not object to life imprisonment based on the circumstances of the case.

Describing Naing Lin’s remorse, his lawyers Sanjiv Rajan and Minn Naing Oo cited a portion of their client’s statement to the police where he said: “I should have called for the ambulance, then my friend would not have died.

“In my moment of drunk state and confusion, I left the house and drove away. I am very sad about what happened. I did not plan or expect this. He is a close friend and drinking buddy. Although we have disagreements I mean no harm to him. This was accidental.”

His lawyers pointed out that he had voluntarily surrendered and substantially cooperated with the authorities. 

Noting that Naing Lin would be missing the formative years of his son in Myanmar, Mr Sanjiv said: “Hopefully we can move on a trajectory that gives my client some hope or some prospect … of being reunited with his family one day.”

For murder, Naing Lin could have been sentenced to death, but Justice Valerie Thean said that the facts of the case did not merit the death penalty.



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