Orchard Towers killing: Accused murderer punched victim, stabbed him in neck with karambit knife

Selina Lum
The Straits Times
Oct 3, 2023

Tan Sen Yang, the only one in a group of seven who still faces a murder charge over a brawl in Orchard Towers in 2019, was holding a karambit knife when he punched the victim three times in the face.

The short knife with a curved blade and a finger ring at the end of the handle was never recovered as Tan, 32, threw it away before he gave himself up to the police.

This emerged in the High Court on Tuesday on the first day of his trial for murdering Mr Satheesh Noel Gobidass, 31, at about 6.25am on July 2, 2019. If convicted, he faces the death penalty or life imprisonment and caning.

Prosecutors played surveillance footage that largely captured the altercation on the ground floor of Orchard Towers, as well as a scuffle that took place moments earlier at the Naughty Girl Club on the second floor.

After he was attacked by Tan and his friends, Mr Satheesh was seen taking a few steps before he collapsed.

He was pronounced dead about one hour later at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and an autopsy found that he died from a stab wound to the neck.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun said in his opening address that the evidence will show that in attacking Mr Satheesh with the karambit knife, Tan inflicted a stab wound to the neck.

He added: “The accused had intended to cause this injury, and this injury led to the deceased’s death. The accused’s actions were not an accident or unintended.”

Tan and his friends went to the club at about 5.25am on July 2, 2019.

At about 6.20am, his group got into a dispute with another group of patrons, who included Mr Muhammad Fairus Muhammad Ali.

Security officers intervened as the two groups shouted secret society slogans.

But Tan continued to be rowdy, and could be seen waving a karambit knife in the surveillance footage. He allegedly cut the index finger of a security officer, Mr B. Barathkrishnan, while waving the knife.

The two groups continued scuffling and Tan allegedly slashed Mr Fairus’ face, leaving a permanent scar on his cheek.

Tan faces two assault charges relating to these injuries, which have been stood down for now.

After security officers separated the two groups, Tan and his friends took a lift to the ground floor. As they were about to exit Orchard Towers, Mr Satheesh, an acquaintance of Mr Fairus, took the escalator down alone and confronted Tan’s group.

In the ensuing fight, Tan punched Mr Satheesh in the face three times while holding the knife.

Tan Sen Yang (top left, in white) was seen on surveillance footage punching Mr Satheesh Noel Gobidass repeatedly. Photo: Court document

His companions continued punching and kicking the victim before fleeing the scene.

Tan went to the home of Mr Loo Boon Chong to shower and change out of his bloodstained T-shirt. Mr Loo later disposed of the T-shirt while Tan threw the knife away.

When Tan later visited a friend, he learnt that the victim had died, and was advised to surrender. He contacted the police to do so. At about 2.35pm on the same day, officers arrested him near the Toa Payoh South Community Club.

The six others who were arrested were charged with murder on July 4, 2019. Their charges were later reduced to less serious offences for the respective roles they played.

Mr Loo was given five months’ jail for disposing of Tan’s T-shirt.

Ms Natalie Siow Yu Zhen was sentenced to five months’ jail for assault and being in the company of someone in possession of a weapon.

Mr Joel Tan Yun Sheng was jailed for four weeks for assault.

Mr Ang Da Yuan was sentenced to eight months’ jail and six strokes of the cane for assault and being in the company of Tan.

Mr Chan Jia Xing was given a conditional warning for being in the company of Tan. A conditional warning does not amount to a conviction and does not leave a criminal record.

Tan Hong Sheng was sentenced to four years and nine months’ jail with 12 strokes of the cane for being in the company of Tan and on two unrelated rioting charges.

The six are among 47 prosecution witnesses lined up for the trial.

Tan Sen Yang is defended by Mr Teo Choo Kee, Mr Subir Singh Grewal and Mr Nichol Yeo.

The Straits Times

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