Did depression make abusive boss lash out at worker?

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Did depression make abusive boss lash out at worker?

The information technology company manager admitted last year that he had physically abused a subordinate on multiple occasions in 2013.

In a hearing yesterday to determine his sentence, Lee Yew Nam's psychiatrist, Dr Tommy Tan, told the court his patient had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

District Judge Lim Tse Haw had earlier called for the hearing to access the level of contribution between Lee's psychiatric condition and his offending behaviour.

On Aug 18 last year, Lee, who was the manager of IT company Encore eServices, pleaded guilty to four counts of voluntarily causing hurt to Mr Calvin Chan Meng Hock, now 31, between January and May 2013.

Two other charges involving the same victim - a fifth count of assault committed between July 2010 and January 2011 and one count of using abusive words against him on May 15, 2013 - will be taken into consideration during sentencing.


One of Lee's outbursts on May 15 in 2013 was caught on camera and the 17-second video clip quickly went viral, causing an uproar after it was uploaded online.

Dr Tan, who was a witness for Lee, told Judge Lim yesterday that he first saw his patient on Dec 20, 2013.

Lee, now 45, sees him monthly and his last visit was on Wednesday.

Taking the stand, Dr Tan said agitation is a symptom of depression.

He added that his patient's major depressive disorder "substantially impaired" his ability to control his actions. The court heard that Lee had been suffering from the condition since 2009, before he sought psychiatric help four years later.

When Judge Lim asked if Lee had hit Mr Chan because he could not control himself, the psychiatrist replied: "Yes."

The prosecution's witness, psychiatrist Dr Jerome Goh, had a different view.

He testified that he did not think agitation is a symptom of depression.

When queried by defence lawyer Sunil Sudheesan, Dr Goh said he did not think major depressive disorder made it more likely for Lee to hit or lash out at Mr Chan.

He said the condition could have caused Lee to lash out at others as well, not just his one victim.

He also disagreed with Mr Sunil when the lawyer suggested that major depressive disorder could have contributed to Lee's behaviour towards Mr Chan.

Lee is expected to be sentenced when the case resumes on March 11.

About the case

For months, he tormented his employee for mistakes the latter had made at work.

Lee Yew Nam, manager of information technology company Encore eServices, slapped, punched and pushed Mr Calvin Chan Meng Hock on multiple occasions.

Lee, now 45, was caught after one of his violent outbursts on May 15, 2013, was recorded by an intern, Mr Amos Yeo, then 25, and posted online.

The 17-second video clip, which showed him assaulting Mr Chan, now 31, went viral on the Internet in 2013.

The manager admitted in court last year that he repeatedly assaulted the younger man between January and May 2013.

He committed these offences in their office at Jurong Town Hall Road.

Mr Chan started working as an intern for Lee in May 2010 for six months, drawing a monthly salary of $500. After that, he continued to work in the company on the same pay.

The court heard that apart from his wife, Lee did not have any permanent employees. He would hire interns from universities and polytechnics.


In January 2013, Lee slapped Mr Chan once on his face after he felt the younger man had failed to neatly arrange some software files on a computer.

The following month, angry that Mr Chan had failed to correctly answer a customer's request, he punched him on the left side of his face a few times. Lee then pushed Mr Chan, causing him to fall off his chair.

On May 14, 2013, Lee grabbed Mr Chan's chin and forcefully pulled it back after finding out he had forgotten to delete some files from a database.

The abuse that was caught on camera took place the next day after Lee went through a conversation log between Mr Chan and a customer. He felt that Mr Chan had failed to perform his work well and questioned him about it.

When Mr Chan gave him an unsatisfactory explanation, he became increasingly agitated and started to shout at the younger man. Lee then punched him on the left side of his head before slapping him three times.

Mr Chan made a police report four days later.

For each count of voluntarily causing hurt, Lee could be jailed up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

This article was first published on Jan 29, 2016. Get The New Paper for more stories.