15 months' jail for assault on roommate

SINGAPORE - Construction worker Min Min Hteik returned to his Boon Lay dormitory in the early hours of Dec 4 last year after a drinking session.

He spotted roommate Naing Win lying on the floor using a mobile phone - and launched a brutal, unprovoked attack on him.

Min Min Hteik, 28, a Myanmar national, used a broomstick and slipper to belt his fellow countryman - and finally bit off a large chunk of his right ear. During the attack, other residents in the dormitory pulled Min Min Hteik out of the room, but he broke free.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to 15 months' jail after admitting to the attack, which ripped a 4cm by 1cm segment off his roommate's ear and permanently disfigured Naing Win, 33.

When asked by District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim why he launched the attack, Min Min Hteik said through an interpreter: "I am sorry... At that time, I was drunk." He asked for the chance to continue working here to support his parents.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh pointed out that Min Min Hteik had not been too drunk to know what he was doing. Calling for a jail term of more than eight months, she said that voluntary intoxication leading to a violent offence could be regarded as an aggravating factor.

At the time of the incident, both men were working for a company which does painting and blasting works.

Highlighting the sequence of events, DPP Koh said the attack had continued even after witnesses tried to separate the two men. She added that Min Min Hteik, who had not previously offended, had demonstrated a relatively high degree of violence.

For voluntarily causing grievous hurt to his colleague, the man could have been jailed for seven years, and fined or caned.

This article was published on April 30 in The Straits Times.

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