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Monday, April 27, 2009

Jail term cut on appeal

"FORMER investment analyst Russell Tan Rui Leen, 39, has succeeded in his appeal against his sentence of four years' jail and eight strokes of the cane for slashing and stabbing his wife.

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong on Monday set aside the sentence of caning and reduced the jail term to three years.

Giving his decision, CJ Chan said Tan had committed the offence against a domestic backdrop of prolonged marital conflict and verbal abuse by his wife.

Tan believed the actions of his wife, Ms Jann Goh Hwee Suan, 35, were harmful to the welfare of the children, the various maids whom the couple had employed and himself.

Before the stabbing, Tan had been on the receiving end of derogatory remarks about him in the children's presence as well as numerous police reports she made against him.

This led to the build-up of severe mental stress in Tan, and he lost his self control on the day of the incident in the face of more taunting.

'It is common experience that verbal abuse can be more hurtful and provocative than physical abuse,' said CJ Chan, adding that a deterrent sentence of caning and a long jail term was 'pointless' in a case in which an offence is committed as a result of loss of self control.

On Sept 30, 2007, Tan had grabbed a knife from the kitchen to repeatedly slash and stab his wife. Ms Goh spent 18 days in hospital."

Before the feminists start going on about sexism in the justice system (the original sentence was handed down by a female District Judge, May Mesenas), here're some points to consider:

- An IMH report described the couple's history as "deep marital discord during which Russell had to endure spousal abuse"
- Tan got a personal protection order against his wife
- As his lawyer observed, "Russell was asked on a number of occasions by well-meaning friends to consider a divorce. The fact he did not take the easy way out says a lot about this man."
- As a doctor from Raffles Hospital noted, Ms Goh "knew with accurate precision how to bring out the worst in Russell"
- His wife made fun of his genitals in front of one child, "called him a homosexual and accused him of molesting the maid"
- He also said she had "assaulted five of their maids"

That said, the account is quite gruesome:

"He disregarded her pleas and even those of his six-year-old son. In reply to his son, he said: "No, she must die. She must not live. I must kill her." At one stage, DPP Kam said, Tan even tried to saw off her head."

She's also suing him for S$136,000 in damages, so his saga is not over yet.
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