The 27-year-old woman lay sprawled in the HDB corridor after barely surviving being strangled with a rope.
Her attacker, Lu Choon Sien, had already fled. But, in his desperation to retrieve his mobile phone that he had dropped during the struggle with the woman, Lu, 33, made a mistake.
He called his own number. The victim's husband, who had found the phone, answered the call. Unknown to Lu, the man had also called the police.
The husband told police about the attack at 3am: "While my wife was returning home, a stranger had tried to strangle her and the person was wearing a greyish skirt. I have found her mobile phone in front of my HDB unit."
At that time, the woman and her husband had assumed that the attacker was a female. Lu told the man he had lost his mobile phone and agreed to meet the man at the void deck of the block where the assault had taken place.
When Lu arrived, police were waiting. He had initially denied attacking the woman despite being identified by her. He later admitted strangling her and was arrested. Lu's lawyer, Mr Foo Cheow Ming, said his client was generally a peaceful and law-abiding citizen.
"It's his (Lu's) first brush with the criminal legal system," he said. The lawyer asked the court to consider probation or a nominal custodial term. Lu was said to have made good progress and was receptive to the treatment by his psychiatrists.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran said the events that morning showed a "degree of planning and premeditation on the part of the accused". "If not for the fact that the accused had dropped his mobile phone at the scene, it would be difficult to identify him," he said.
"This would have given him the opportunity to continue to offend while escaping detection by police." Lu was potentially a grave and serious danger to the public, he added.
This article was published on Sept 12 in The New Paper.
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