4 years' jail for killing ex-wife's boyfriend

Motorcycle salesman Phua Kok Khoon, has been charged in court on 30 May 2012 for the murder of Firman Hamik Abdul Halem, a mover, at Bukit Merah Lane 2 on 28 May 2012. Phua faces the death penalty if convicted.

SINGAPORE - Scared that his former wife's boyfriend was after him, motorcycle salesman Phua Kok Khoon decided to arm himself with a knife with a 19.5-cm blade.

When the boyfriend, 24-year-old deliveryman Firman Hakim Abdul Halem, did show up outside his shop in Bukit Merah, Phua thought that the younger man was holding a sword.

It was just an umbrella.

Phua unsheathed his knife and the ensuing fight ended with Mr Firman's death from multiple slash and stab wounds.

Phua, 40, was yesterday sentenced to four years' jail by the High Court after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide for the 2012 killing.

The victim's family and friends who were in court were upset with the sentence and became agitated once court adjourned. Police and security officers had to step in to defuse the situation.

Phua originally faced a murder charge but it was reduced as he was found by a government psychiatrist to be suffering from acute stress disorder and major depressive disorder at the time.

He had been married to Ms Ismawati Zaini for more than a year before she filed for divorce in the Syariah Court in December 2011.

He later learnt on Facebook that she was in a relationship with Mr Firman. Phua, meanwhile, had rekindled a relationship with an old flame when his marriage hit the rocks.

On May 28, 2012, Phua was at work when he got a text message and a missed call from a number he did not recognise. When he called back, Mr Firman told him he would look for him at his workplace.

Phua hung up and ignored subsequent calls. But when he received taunting text messages, he felt Mr Firman and his friends were planning to hurt him. First he bought a paper cutter, before deciding to get the knife.

After knifing Mr Firman, Phua fled the scene with minor scratches. He saw his pregnant girlfriend and his own family before giving himself up to the police that night.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Woon Kwong asked for a jail term of four to five years. He pointed to how Phua used a knife against an unarmed man.

Phua's lawyer, Mr Sunil Sudheesan, argued that three years was sufficient.

He said his client was depressed over his marriage, which had soured over her demands for dowry and his suspicions that she was having an affair.

This article was first published on May 29, 2014.
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