SIBU, Malaysia - An 18-year-old youth found guilty of murdering four members of a family by bludgeoning and stabbing them to death has been ordered by the High Court here to be detained in Sibu Prison at the pleasure of the Head of State.
The youth, who was a minor when he committed the murders last year, was also sentenced to eight years in prison for a murder attempt on another family member.
In sentencing him yesterday, Judge Supang Lian said the foremost factor that came into her mind was the youth's age, which was 17 years and seven months at the time of the crime.
"As such, he was still a child. The only sentence under Section 97(2) of the Child Act in lieu of a death sentence is for him to be detained at the pleasure of the Head of State," she said.
"The report of the welfare officer also paints a picture of a withdrawn young person who prefers solitary activities rather than interacting with others.
"He is also of the opinion that the teen is severely lacking maturity in thought," she said.
These observations, she said, tied in with another report from one Dr Lau Kim Kah in Sentosa Hospital Kuching that the youth suffered from Asperger's Disorder, which is an autistic spectrum disorder.
"This is based on his impairment in social interaction, restricted and stereotyped behaviour, interest and activities, resulting in significant impairment in social, occupational and psychological functioning," said Supang.
On Aug 18, the youth had been found guilty by the same court for the murder of businessman Ling Tong Hock, 36, his son David Ling Chei Qi, 10, daughter Amy Ling Zi Jiun, seven, and his mother Leong Nyuk Lan @ Leong Nyuk Lang, 76, at their house in Lorong RTM 13/B1.
He also convicted of a murder attempt against Ling's other son, Kelvin Ling Chei You.
The youth, who had broken into the house to steal, had used a sledgehammer and a knife on the victims - all of whom succumbed to severe injuries to their heads and necks - at about 7am on Jan 3 last year.
Supang said since he was capable of conceiving and carrying out these brutal attacks, he would be a danger to others should he not be confined in custody.
She also ordered for the jail term to take effect from the date of his arrest and for the sentences to run concurrently.