Man who slashed random woman in Choa Chu Kang, then himself, wanted to do 'something bad'

Wan Ting Koh
·Senior Reporter
·4 min read
A video of the incident on 29 September last year. (PHOTO: Facebook/Roads.sg)
A video of the incident on 29 September last year. (PHOTO: Facebook/Roads.sg)

SINGAPORE — A man caught on video slashing himself on the forearm with a kitchen knife that he had earlier used to attack a random woman had been off anti-psychotic medication for three days.

Neo Hong Wei, 23, then thought of “doing something bad” to feel better.

The Singaporean equipped himself with a 31-cm long kitchen knife and left his home in search of a victim.

He chanced upon a 27-year-old woman at an open air car park near Block 412 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3 and attacked her.

Neo pleaded guilty to one charge of causing hurt with a dangerous weapon on Tuesday (23 March). He is represented by lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law.

After the incident, Neo was assessed by a a psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health and deemed to have a psychotic disorder, although the precise nature of his illness was unconfirmed.

An IMH psychiatrist stated that Neo possibly suffered from schizophrenia. However, Neo was found not to have been of unsound mind at the time and was not "so psychotic as to have abdicated his mental capacity to know right from wrong", stated prosecutors.

Facts of the case

On 29 September last year, before midday, Neo felt stressed while at home and decided to attack someone so that he would not have to "live his life in misery". After he left home with the knife, he saw the victim walking in the direction of Lot One Shoppers’ Mall.

The woman spotted Neo walking towards her from the opposite direction. They made eye contact.

When he was about two metres away, Neo took the knife out. Seeing this, the woman felt that something was amiss and ran away from Neo, who chased her.

The woman tripped and fell, and Neo swung the knife at her head and body repeatedly while she tried to block the blows. She then found her footing and fled while screaming for help.

A witness - off-duty police officer Ezekiel Letchumanan K Saminadan - was checking his email at home when he heard the screaming. He looked out from a window and saw Neo chasing the woman. A black car entering the carpark had to brake when the two ran in front of his car.

The driver of the car wound down his window and told Neo to drop the knife, but wound up the window after Neo turned to face him.

Ezekiel, who had borrowed a hoe from a nearby construction site by this time, approached Neo and identified himself as a police officer. He told Neo to put the knife down and asked the driver of the black car to tell Neo the same thing in Mandarin.

Neo then shouted “why” and started slashing his forearm with the knife, prompting Ezekiel to grab Neo's right wrist and subdue him, with the help of members of the public.

The group disarmed him and tied him up with a rope. Police officers arrived shortly after and arrested Neo. At least 11 calls were made to the police.

Victim with scalp laceration

The victim, who was still at the scene, was in visible distress and had dried blood over her face. She was also caught in mobile footage which was circulated online.

She was brought to the National University Hospital where she was found with multiple lacerations and abrasions over her body and scalp. She was treated and discharged in stable condition.

The victim was also given a medical social worker appointment to look out for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The victim was unable to walk for about two weeks due to her injuries.

Neo, who was conveyed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, had two 1.5cm-long superficial lacerations over his left forearm.

A psychiatrist who saw Neo deemed that he was at a significant risk of "further interpersonal violence and dangerousness towards others at present" and was unlikely to be compliant with prescribed psychiatric treatment if left on his own.

Neo will return to court for his sentencing on 5 April, after he is assessed for the court to get a better understanding of his psychiatric disorder and how it contributed to the offence.

For causing hurt with a weapon, Neo can be jailed up to seven years, and/or fined, and/or with caned.

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