Boon Tat Street death: Mum of man stabbed by father-in-law seeks at least $500k in damages

Selina Lum
The Straits Times
Oct 20, 2021

The mother of businessman Spencer Tuppani, who was fatally stabbed in broad daylight by his father-in-law in 2017, is seeking at least $500,000 from his killer.

Among other things, Madam Tham Poh Kwai, 64, is asking for $2,800 a month in rent, the High Court heard on Wednesday (Oct 20).

The hearing was to determine the amount of damages she was entitled to get from 73-year-old Tan Nam Seng.

Tan is serving an 8½-year jail term for killing Mr Tuppani, 38, who collapsed in Boon Tat Street after he was stabbed outside a coffee shop in Telok Ayer Street on July 10, 2017.

Tan was upset with how Mr Tuppani had treated his daughter, Ms Shyller Tan Cheng Cheng. He also believed that his son-in-law had cheated him of his shipping business.

In November 2019, Madam Tham sued Tan, saying that she was Mr Tuppani's dependant and had thereby suffered loss and damage.

She said her loss amounted to $5,050 a month, comprising a monthly allowance of $2,000, rent, utilities and medication.

On Wednesday, the court heard that Madam Tham currently pays $2,700 in rent for an apartment at a Jurong condominium, where she lives alone.

She told the court that she earns about $2,500 a month as a receptionist, and does not get any financial support from her younger son.

When Tan's lawyer, Mr Andy Chiok, suggested that she look for cheaper accommodation, she replied: "I cannot accept this. I can't keep moving. I'm old, I'm tired."

Madam Tham used to live in a four-storey house in Bedok with Mr Tuppani, Ms Tan, the couple's three children, Tan, and Mr Tuppani's younger brother.

After her son died, she moved in briefly with Ms Joan Yeo, Mr Tuppani's long-time mistress with whom he had two children, at Leedon Heights.

“I had to leave (the house in Bedok) because Tan Cheng Cheng’s father killed my son. I could not stay there,” she said.

She moved into a West Coast Drive condominium in August 2017. The tenancy agreement was signed three days before Mr Tuppani’s death. By then, Ms Tan and Mr Tuppani had agreed to get divorced.

Madam Tham said Mr Tuppani paid the $4,200 rent for the first month and that she paid rent using her savings after his death.

In September 2018, she moved into her current place.

Later, when Ms Shyller Tan took the stand, she suggested that Madam Tham rent a room in an HDB flat.

Madam Tham's lawyer, Mr David Nayar, noted that his client used to have a room with an attached bathroom, a balcony and a walk-in wardrobe, as well as the use of two kitchens.

Ms Tan replied: "If Spencer had not married me, he would not have this lifestyle, neither would she."

She noted that Mr Tuppani's whole family worked at TNS Ocean Lines, the business founded by her father.

TNS was sold to a bigger corporation in December 2016 and Mr Tuppani was made chief executive of the new company.

Ms Tan said living in a flat would be "similar to what they had in Choa Chu Kang", referring to a flat that Mr Tuppani's family sold in 2012.

When Mr Nayar put it to her that Madam Tham should get $5,050 a month, Ms Tan replied: "Not that much."

The case was adjourned to Thursday for oral submissions.

The Straits Times

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