Pub owner Low Chuan Woo was viciously attacked by a drunk patron who was much bigger than him.
But in a fatal twist, Low, 45, ended up becoming the killer.
The patron, Mr Mohamed Iskandar Ishak, 45, was stabbed twice in the ensuing struggle and died on the way to the hospital.
Justice Tay Yong Kwang said Low had no choice but to arm himself, but his only "wrong and foolish mistake" was to choose a fruit knife as a weapon.
Yesterday, Low pleaded guilty in the High Court and was jailed four years and eight months on four charges: one charge of culpable homicide; two charges of living off the earnings of prostitutes and one charge of managing a place of assignation.
Low received half of the earnings of his six Filipino "performing artistes" when they offered sexual services to his pub's customers.
Another four charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Said Justice Tay during sentencing: "While it is sad that the deceased died a violent death, it is hard not to conclude that it was because of him. (Low) was literally minding his own business outside the pub when the deceased started the chain of events.
"(Low) was certainly not the troublemaker that night... Violence was practically forced out of him by persistent provocation and assault by the deceased."
The violent incident took place last January when Mr Iskandar had visited Low's pub at Changi Village. He was accompanied by his nephew and brother-in-law.
It was their first time at the Ramesses pub, and they ordered a bottle of whisky and some beers.
As the men were finishing their drinks, they were approached by a few Filipino women.
The group bought drinks for the women, who were "performing artistes" employed by the pub, and a second bottle of whisky for themselves.
At around 11.30pm, Mr Iskandar became agitated when one of the women refused to drink a tequila shot he had bought her, and demanded to see the pub's owner.
Low, who was seated outside the pub then, heard him shouting and went inside to pacify the customer but Mr Iskandar remained furious.
When he saw Low standing next to the woman, Mr Iskandar splashed the shot of tequila on her face.
In spite of that, Low continued to reason with his customer.
But Mr Iskandar grabbed hold of Low's neck and pulled him out of the pub through the rear door, ending up at the carpark.
They quarrelled, with Mr Iskandar grabbing Low's shirt and neck.
Mr Iskandar was 1.7m and weighed 90kg, while Low was 1.68m and weighed 60kg.
Two other men - the pub's bartender and Mr Iskandar's brother-in-law - came outside to diffuse the situation but the bartender ended up getting punched in the left eye.
They got into a scuffle where Mr Iskandar tried to hit Low's head against an iron gate, but Low managed to break free.
Low ran back into the pub, grabbed a fruit knife with a 14cm blade, then ran out again to confront Mr Iskandar.
The men fought again, but this time Mr Iskandar was stabbed twice, once in the right upper arm and once in the back.
Immediately after that, Low went back to the pub and placed the knife in the sink, before grabbing a billiard cue and returning to the carpark.
However, Mr Iskandar had disappeared by then.
Bleeding profusely, Mr Iskandar managed to make his way to the side of the road, unaccompanied.
The New Paper previously reported that a cabby saw him trying to flag a cab while swaying and bleeding, and stopped for him. Mr Iskandar died in the taxi while on the way to the hospital.
Around 20 of Low's family and friends, who were present in the courtroom yesterday, were visibly elated when the sentence was passed.
Low himself was seen shedding tears of joy, raising both his arms.
His elderly mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Mok, 75, said she was happy with the verdict.
Said Madam Mok in Mandarin: "My son was just going to work one day, but because he had to defend himself, he was thrown in jail and the business folded overnight."
Low could have been sentenced to 20 years' jail with caning and fine for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
This article was first published on May 24, 2014.
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